Dr. Ashutosh Ron Virmani, a Charlotte obstetrician-gynecologist who has for many years accused Presbyterian Hospital of racism for excluding him from practicing there, is now being accused of racism by anti-abortion protesters.
Members of Operation Save America, a Concord-based anti-abortion group, have posted online video of Virmani challenging protesters to adopt one of those ugly black babies and get them off the taxpayers money.
Virmani, 59, works for A Preferred Womens Health Center in Charlotte, part of a chain of clinics in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee. The chains website says it is committed to offering women and their families complete and confidential abortion care.
In the video, several members of Operation Save America, a conservative Christian organization, are seen confronting Virmani at the door of his home.
Rusty Thomas, assistant director of Operation Save America, told the Observer that about 10 to 12 protesters visited offices and homes of numerous doctors who perform abortions on July 26, as part of a national event. Before going to Virmanis door, Thomas said the group had distributed flyers to alert the doctors neighbors that Ron Virmani is an abortionist. You need to pray for him. Its got to stop.
In the video, Virmani can be seen in the doorway and overheard telling the group not to put the cost of pregnancy and adoption on taxpayers.
I, as a taxpayer, do not wish for those babies to be born and brought up and kill those people in Colorado, he said, in an exchange with the protesters.
One of those confronting him said: If you tell us, we would adopt them.
Let me see you adopt one of those ugly black babies, Virmani said. Go ahead. Adopt these babies, OK? Take them off the taxpayers money.
Its not clear whether the video shows the full exchange between Virmani and the protesters.
On Monday, a woman who answered the phone at A Preferred Womens Health Center said Virmani was not available. He has no comment, she said.
Thomas, of Operation Save America, said his group has no intention of harming people, even though thats how it is portrayed in the media.
They want to present us as stalkers, as people who want to kill. We dont want to harm anybody, Thomas said. Theres something really, really wrong when were more concerned about those who are committing evil than those who are the victims.
In 2011, the groups leader, The Rev. Phillip Flip Benham, was found guilty of stalking a Charlotte doctor by distributing posters with abortion doctors names and photos, bearing the words Wanted by Christ, to Stop Killing Babies.
Virmani has conducted a years-long e-mail and letter-writing campaign against Presbyterian Hospital, where he used to deliver babies and perform gynecologic surgery. In 1995, a hospital peer review committee suspended his hospital privileges after he made a surgical mistake. He alleges he was punished more severely than other doctors because of his Asian-Indian background.
In the 1994 surgery, Virmani treated a patient at Presbyterian Hospital Matthews for pelvic pain after a hysterectomy. During a laparoscopic procedure, he accidentally pierced an important blood vessel that led to the leg. After the peer review committee suspended the doctors privileges, Virmani appealed, arguing that the artery puncture is a known possible complication of the procedure.
Presbyterians Board of Trustees upheld the peer review decision, and Virmani sued. A state court ordered a new peer review, which had the same outcome. In 1999, Virmani sued again, unsuccessfully, in federal court, claiming that Presbyterian was more severe with him than with white doctors who made similar mistakes.
In the years since, Virmani, who has an active North Carolina medical license, has written many letters to the hospital, other medical groups and journalists. He also compiled a series of booklets detailing his plight under such titles as Once Upon a Time, I Delivered Beautiful Babies, How the Hospital Destroyed My Life and Abuse of Medical Peer-Review.