Alabama Abortion Facility May Be Suspended as Inspections Increase

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alabama Abortion Facility May Be Suspended as Inspections Increase

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20
, 2006

Montgomery, AL ( — Another abortion facility in Alabama may be disciplined for violating state rules and regulations. That news comes as the state’s health department increases inspections of abortion centers after closing one abortion business and disciplining another over violations.

Last week, health officials indicated that the New Woman All Women Health Care abortion center in Birmingham will likely be placed on probation.

The center hadn’t been inspected since July 2004 but State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson said staffing increases have made it so he can begin doing annual inspections of the state’s nine abortion centers.

"We’ve had a five percent increase in staff over the past five months," he told the Associated Press. "The staffing is not as bad as it has been, but even with that said, we are nowhere where we need to be."

Diane Derzis, the director of the New Woman abortion facility, told AP she welcomed the increased inspections.

"They ought to (be inspecting more), we don’t have a problem with that. That’s what they should do and I think it’s great," she said. “I like to say I’m a licensed facility by the health department — there’s not anything to hide here."

But the Summit Medical Center in Birmingham did have something to hide.

Summit closed down in July after a nurse illegally gave a woman late in pregnancy the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug. Afterwards, it fabricated its health records in an attempt to cover up what happened.

The woman Summit gave the abortion drug to had a severely high blood pressure and needed medical attention, and 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.

Levich and King have been prohibited from working with each other again after Levich allowed King to dispense the abortion drug.

At Summit, state health 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 finding problems at Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery.

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

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

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.

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