Authorities say Dr. Joseph Booker Jr., who was once the only abortion practitioner in Mississippi, has been found dead at his home in Madison.
Police Capt. Kevin Newman says there were no signs of foul play or forced entry at Booker’s home. The body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.
Booker at one time performed abortions in Gulfport and Jackson. Booker formerly practiced with Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, but the two parted ways when Booker filed a wrongful termination suit against the clinic in 2010.
Police said officers were called to Booker’s home at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday to respond to a welfare concern. “The police department was contacted by a relative that had been unable to reach Joseph Booker, Jr. for several days,” Newman said. “Once at the residence, officers were unable to make contact and entry was made into the house.”
There, officers discovered Booker, 69, was deceased. “There were no signs of forced entry prior to entering the residence and no signs of foul play,” Newman said.
He said Madison County Coroner Alex Breeland was summoned to the scene, as coroners are throughout the state when there is an unattended death.
Pro-Life Mississippi board of directors member Tanya Britton of Jackson said today she is “just sick” over Booker’s death.
“From a Christian perspective, I pray that he repented on the lives that he has taken, and that God is merciful,” Britton said. “I haven’t talked to him and would not presume to know the state of his soul.
In the past Booker has been sued for abortion related malpractice:
Default judgment in Mississippi abortion suit
Associated Press 12/2/2011
JACKSON — A state judge has entered a default judgment in a lawsuit that claimed a woman nearly died from a failed abortion in Mississippi that left her in a coma for a week.
Daschica Thomas and her husband filed the lawsuit in 2005 in Hinds County Circuit Court against Dr. Joseph Booker, the National Women’s Health Organization of Jackson and others. The suit claimed Thomas went into the coma because of a blood infection brought on by a botched abortion in 2003.
Circuit Judge William Gowan entered the default judgment in Thomas’ favor after the defendants didn’t show up for trial. The ruling didn’t mention damages, and it wasn’t immediately clear when that issue would be decided.
Thomas’ attorney had no comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Mark Wann, who once represented Booker in the case, said he’s no longer involved in the litigation and wouldn’t comment. Wann said he doesn’t know where to find Booker. A phone number for Booker wasn’t immediately available.
The state Department of Health said Mississippi had two licensed abortion clinics in 2003, and the state has only one now. The current clinic is on the same Jackson site as the former clinic, but under different ownership.
Shannon Brewer is director of All Women’s Healthcare of Jackson, which is currently the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. She said the National Women’s Health Organization no longer owns the Mississippi clinic and Booker doesn’t work at the clinic now. Brewer said she doesn’t know where he is.
The lawsuit claims that Booker wasn’t the doctor originally scheduled to perform the abortion, but the other doctor was out that day. When Booker was performing the abortion, he allegedly stopped abruptly, said he couldn’t finish it and told Thomas to come back so it could be completed by the other doctor.
The lawsuit claims a “reasonably prudent” physician would have treated Thomas with antibiotics because of her diabetes, but Booker didn’t. Thomas allegedly came down with a blood infection, went into a coma and needed blood transfusions. The lawsuit also claims, among other things, that Thomas couldn’t have children after the abortion and that her husband lost his job for missing work while caring for her.
Booker performed abortions in Mississippi for years and found himself in controversial situations before.
In December 1999, three dozen bags of aborted fetuses and other remains were found buried in a shallow grave behind a business in the Gulf Coast city of Ocean Springs. An investigation revealed that the fetuses came from a storage room Booker had rented in nearby Gulfport, a city where he had performed abortions at a gynecology clinic.
Booker had pleaded guilty in July 1999 to tax evasion and was sentenced to five months in federal prison.
Someone purchased the contents of the storage unit, sight unseen, at auction and moved the items to a storage unit in Ocean Springs. Some of the items smelled and the new owner directed an employee to get rid of them, apparently not knowing they were fetuses.
In 1996, lawmakers passed a bill that required licensing for doctors’ offices at which 10 or more abortions were performed a month. That law was aimed at Booker, who had claimed his medical office did more than perform abortions and he did not have to meet requirements as an abortion clinic.