Alabama Postpones Hearing on Revoking Abortion Business’ License

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alabama Postpones Hearing on Revoking Abortion Business’ License Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 15
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Alabama health officials said on Thursday that they have postponed a hearing on the suspension of a license of a Montgomery, Alabama abortion business that lacked proper emergency care for women who may suffer from botched abortions. Staff at the Reproductive Health Services abortion center claim they are working on fixing the problems.

Because the facility says it is working on making improvements, State Health Department attorney Pat Ivie said the agency decided to postpone a hearing.

The Alabama Department of Health suspended RHS’s license in August saying that the abortion business also did not have a backup physician on hand kept inadequate medical records and conducted poor follow-up abortion care.

Previously, the health department had set up a September 18 hearing on the suspension but Ivie told the Associated Press that the abortion center showed a plan for correcting the abuses.

However, Ivie indicated RHS must satisfy its requirements and sign a consent agreement to abide by the state health rules before it can reopen.

That’s not good enough for James Henderson, president of the Alabama Alliance Against Abortion, who told AP the state health department was being "too soft" on the abortion center.

"As always, the health department has put the abortion industry first, not the public, not the young women and certainly not the unborn babies," he said. "So, it’s no surprise to us, we really sort of expected it."

But Kim Adams, president of the pro-abortion group Alabama NOW, said she was pleased the abortion center will eventually be able to reopen despite its problems of putting women at risk.

The health department previously said the RHS violation "constitutes a danger to public health and welfare."

RHS closed on the heels of state officials shutting down the Summit Medical Center abortion facility in Birmingham. SMC was closed in July after a nurse illegally gave a woman late in pregnancy the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. The abortion center then fabricated its health records in an attempt to cover up the incident.

The woman Summit gave the abortion drug to had a severely high blood pressure and needed medical attention, later gave birth to a stillborn baby. According to the suspension order obtained, the woman had a "critical and dangerously high" blood pressure reading of 182/129.

Only a doctor is supposed to dispense the dangerous abortion drug and the mifepristone pills are only intended to be used in the early stages of a pregnancy. The woman went to an emergency room six days later and gave birth to a 6-pound, 4-ounce stillborn baby.

The state medical board has also temporarily prohibited abortion practitioner Deborah Lyn Levich and Summit Medical Center nurse Janet F. Onthank King from practicing medicine.

Levich and King have been prohibited from working with each other again after Levich allowed King to dispense the abortion drug, as only licensed physicians are allowed to do that.

At Summit, officials said they found "egregious lapses in care, including non-physicians performing abortions, severely underestimating the gestational age of a fetus, failure to appropriately refer or treat a patient with a dangerously elevated blood pressure, and performing an abortion on a late-term pregnancy."

Summit Medical Centers operates seven abortion businesses in five states and has another abortion center in Montgomery, Alabama.

It is the abortion business that employed Malachy Dehenre, who lost his medical license in both Alabama and Mississippi because of botched abortions.

Following the incident at Summit, the state began inspecting the state’s other abortion facilities, which led to the findings of the problems at RHS.