May 3, 2005 by

Bill Rashbaum


Categories: Medicine

Dr. William Kohlmann Rashbaum, a Manhattan gynecologist and obstetrician who founded one of the first fetal tissue banks in the United States, died on May 2 from complications of lung cancer. He was 78.
Rashbaum was a third-generation physician. The New York native earned his bachelor’s degree and medical degree from New York University, then joined his father’s OB/GYN practice in Manhattan. In the 1950s and 1960s, he treated dozens of women suffering complications from illegal abortions. These experiences affected Rashbaum so strongly that when New York state legalized abortion in 1970, he decided to offer the procedure as a safe way for women to end their unwanted pregnancies.
Despite the controversial nature of his work, Rashbaum never wavered from his duty to help women get pregnant, avoid pregnancy, have a baby or rid themselves of one. A staunch advocate of a woman’s right to choose, he was one of the few doctors in America who would perform a second-trimester abortion when one was required.
Rashbaum also established one of the first licensed fetal tissue banks in the country. There his staff collected pancreases for research and used the organs to find cures for diseases. In his spare time, Rashbaum taught obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Rashbaum was an attending physician and the former chief of planning services at Beth Israel Medical Center, and a founder of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. In 1999, he was honored by the New York Civil Liberties Union for supporting women’s reproductive rights.

5 Responses to Bill Rashbaum

  1. J Satin

    I loved this man, He was my obgyn for almost 30 years. There are no words to express my sense of loss. I am heartbroken. I am sorry I learned of this so late.
    Condoelences to his family oand his office staff.

  2. Jenifer

    Sorry to hear that Dr. William died. Being a third generation doctor, he has contributed very much to the field of medicine and gynecology in particular. I really appreciate his efforts.

  3. BD

    Dr. Rashbaum was a wonderful person, a thoughtful boss and someone I loved and respected. I too am sorry that I heard of his passing so late. Mary, you have my deepest condolences. He was like a father to me.
    Much love.

  4. vitalia

    He wanted me to come see him all those years when I moved to Oregon. He cried every time my mother went to see him, and he would ask for me. I never came. Every year I wanted to send a card, but didn’t. I recently found out of his death. I feel the loss of him. He was my doc for many years and without his help I would not know where I’ll be today.
    I am forever grateful for his gifts to the world.
    Mary, I am not sure if you read this blog, but this is Vicky (the name he called me). Thank you for everything!

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