Suspended Abortion Business Had Numerous Other State Law Violations

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Suspended Abortion Business Had Numerous Other State Law Violations Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22, 2006

Birmingham, AL ( — An abortion business that has had its medical license suspended when a non-doctor gave a woman with a late-term pregnancy the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug has had numerous other violations of state law. That’s according to Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer.

Williamson told the Birmingham News that Summit Medical Center treated other women having abortions without a licensed physician present, apart from the woman who recently gave birth to a stillborn child after getting the abortion drug.

"Four of 10 sampled patients did not have a physician present," Williamson told the News. "There were multiple violations of rules over multiple days."

The record of five other women also showed that the abortion center made no effort to determine the gestational age of the unborn child.

"The rules require that viability be determined, and that a notation be made in the medical records," Williamson said. "In five other patients it was not documented."

That’s important because the abortion drug is only supposed to be used during the earlier weeks of a pregnancy. The drug has already killed seven women in the United States and injured more than 950, but the safety problems jump significantly the later it is used in pregnancy.

Meanwhile, state law requires abortion centers to test for viability after the 20th week of pregnancy and Williamson indicated Summit Medical Center didn’t do that either.

"When asked about the viability of the fetus, she responded, `I guess we don’t technically discuss it; none are viable,’" according to the state health department’s report.

"The complete statement of deficiencies does highlight the gravity of the situation," Williamson said of the numerous problems that led the state to temporarily revoke Summit’s medical license last Wednesday.

Williamson told the Birmingham News that politics doesn’t enter in to the decision to investigate the abortion business and that he wishes he had the staff to monitor state abortion facilities more closely.

"Abortion is a legal procedure," Williamson said. "It’s our job to do our best to make sure they have an abortion in the safest possible way. It’s a violation of a set of rules, and constituted a threat to the health and safety of women. We have to treat it as a regulatory issue."

"Would we like to do it more frequently? Absolutely," he said. "But the nursing homes get more inspection because those are federally funded surveys. We have to figure out how to do the clinic inspections with state dollars."

The state health board investigated Summit after the hospital reported the problems with the woman who had the stillborn baby.

A hearing is scheduled to be held on June 20 and Summit could see its license reinstated, revoked further or permanently denied. AN independent state health official will be in charge of the hearing and, based on it, will make a recommendation to Williamson.

Attorney General Troy King said his office would also begin an investigation into the abortion clinic’s violations.

With Summit temporarily closed, there are two other abortion centers in Birmingham, including a Planned Parenthood abortion business and the private New Woman All Women Clinic.

Summit and New Woman have had problems in previous reports but those deficiencies were thought to have been corrected.