Lawsuit Would Close New Erie Abortion Center for Lack of Insurance

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 6, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Lawsuit Would Close New Erie Abortion Center for Lack of Insurance

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
October 6, 2003

Erie, PA ( — It could be the answer to a pro-lifer’s prayer.

A building association has asked a judge in Erie, Pennsylvania to shut down a new abortion business there, noting the liability insurance for American Women’s Services will soon expire.

The Professional Building Condominium Association Inc. asked for a court injunction to close the AWS abortion center until it demonstrates proof of "adequate general liability insurance in an amount acceptable to the association."

The chief operating officer for the abortion facility, Linda Locke, told the Erie Times-News she believes the lawsuit is "frivolous," claiming that another insurance carrier has agreed to offer liability coverage before the present policy expires.

The request for an injunction is part of a lawsuit which states that the center’s insurance problems present "a real and substantial risk of loss and liability to the Professional Building, its member-owners, and persons entering the building."

According to the lawsuit, if American Women’s Services loses its liability insurance coverage, it will violate the Condominium Association’s bylaws requiring insurance. The association notified the center in September that a minimum required liability insurance for the office suites would be $10 million because of the "controversial nature" of the abortion center.

The lawsuit claims that the abortion business secured liability coverage by Acordia Northeast through the Hartford Fire Insurance Company by stating that the center was "a doctor’s office." The insurance carrier later sent a letter revoking the insurance, stating, "In light of finding out this insured performs abortion services, we will need to decline offering coverage."

Pro-life activists say that officials with AWS have tried to conceal the fact that the center performs abortions. In fact, Locke, an AWS spokeswoman, told the Erie Times-News, "We are not an abortion clinic. We are a doctor’s office specializing in women’s reproductive care."

Pro-life leaders say the abortion center’s claims are laughable.

"Some ‘doctor’s office’!" said Tim Broderick, a leader with Erie’s People for Life, an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

"The ‘doctor’ who owns the place, abortionist Steven C. Brigham, isn’t even licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania. And the only doctor we’ve actually seen around here — no one wants to tell us his name — only seems to be here on Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings, the two times when women are here for abortions.

"Last Wednesday, when the ‘doctor’ was in, one of the ‘doctor’s office’ people stormed into our office yelling, ‘Were you taking pictures of our abortionist?’ I was surprised they would use that term. But why say ‘women’s reproductive health specialist,’ when one word — abortionist — pretty much sums it up? We didn’t even have a camera, by the way," Broderick said.

Brocerick’s pro-life group has an office down the hall from Brigham’s abortion center, a location which enables People for Life to monitor activity at the center.

"If Brigham and American Women’s Services are trying tell insurance companies that their Erie location is something other than an abortion facility, I wonder if they are doing the same thing at their other 13 locations. This is something that ought to be looked into," Broderick said.

The president of the Condominium Association declined comment on the lawsuit.