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A Utah doctor whose license was suspended in Maryland following a botched abortion has performed abortions in Utah, though it's unclear whether she continues to practice.
The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended Nicola I. Riley's license to practice medicine in that state on Aug. 31, saying she "poses a threat to her patients' safety and well-being and thereby represents a danger to the public, her patients, and the profession of medicine."
Riley is licensed in Utah as a physician and surgeon, and her status remained "active" as of Friday afternoon.
"The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing cannot confirm nor deny an active investigation into Ms. Riley's Utah license," Jennifer Bolton, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Commerce, said in a statement.
According to a disciplinary action alert posted on Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website, Riley was charged with violating that state's Medical Practice Act for participating in an abortion that was initiated in another state, and for putting a patient in "potential life-threatening danger" by actions she took after she ruptured the patient's uterus.
A message left at Riley's Utah office was not returned Friday.
Riley graduated from the University of Utah's School of Medicine in 2002. She completed the family medical residency program at St. Mark's Hospital between 2002 and 2005.
For the past five years or so, Wasatch Women's Center has referred clients to Riley, among other providers, for abortions. Wasatch is a counseling center that refers women to adoption assistance, prenatal doctors and abortion, among other services, according to its director, Denise Defa.
On Friday, Defa declined to comment on whether or not the center still refers patients to Riley.
"We would refer to any provider that still has a good medical standing in Utah," she said. "I will not comment on any of our providers."
She stressed her center is not an abortion clinic; it does sub-let space to abortion providers to perform the procedures.
Defa said she is not aware of any complications linked to any of the abortion providers on her center's referral list, including Riley.
Riley, who also has a medical license in Wyoming, was licensed to practice medicine in Maryland on July 20, according to the order for Riley's license suspension.
Shortly after, she was hired by Steven C. Brigham to perform abortions at the Maryland offices of American Women's Services, which also has locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
According to the Maryland report, Riley flew from Utah every other week to Maryland to perform abortions, typically on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. At the time she was hired, Riley knew Brigham was not licensed to practice medicine in Maryland, according to the suspension report.
The Maryland Board of Physicians started investigating Riley and Brigham in mid-August, based on complaints filed by the Elkton, Md., Police Department and a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, also in Maryland.
According to the suspension report, in early August, Brigham initiated an abortion on an 18-year-old patient at his New Jersey office by administering a synthetic dilator. The patient later received medications to induce contractions. The patient thought she would be then transported to Philadelphia to complete the abortion. Instead, Brigham told her and other patients to caravan to one of his Maryland clinics, where Riley started the abortion surgery.
Starting the procedure in one state and completing it another was apparently a way to take advantage of disparities in state abortion laws, according to The Associated Press.
During the surgery, Riley perforated the patient's uterus, according to the suspension report.
Instead of getting her to Union Hospital, located two blocks away, by ambulance as the patient's mother and boyfriend requested Riley refused. After considering taking her by wheelchair, Riley and Brigham drove her there in a rented Chevrolet Malibu.
At Union Hospital, Riley and Brigham were vague about their identities. Their insistence that an emergency room physician come outside delayed the admission of the patient, who was slumped over, semi-unconscious in a wheelchair.
Due to the extent of the patient's injuries, Union Hospital decided to transfer her to Johns Hopkins. Riley returned to the clinic to perform another abortion.
At Johns Hopkins, the patient required immediate transport to the operating room to fix her uterus and bowels.
Maryland has also ordered Brigham to stop practicing medicine in Maryland.