Alabama Health Dept Wants More Abortion Regulations After Problems

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 20, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alabama Health Dept Wants More Abortion Regulations After Problems Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 20
, 2007

Montgomery, AL ( — After health violations were found at multiple abortion centers in Alabama, the state health department has proposed some new regulations meant to step up safety levels for women. The key component of its proposal revolves around a special training program anyone doing abortions in the state must complete.

At one abortion center, the abortion practitioner allowed a staff member to illegally gave a woman late in pregnancy the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.

Another abortion business did not have a backup physician on hand kept inadequate medical records and conducted poor follow-up abortion care.

State Health Officer Don Williamson said the health department, under the new proposal, would only allow someone to do abortions if they received special training from a qualified post-graduate program.

The training would require another certified abortion practitioner to sign off on training and all of the abortions during the program must be done in a hospital rather than a freestanding abortion business.

The Committee on Public Health is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the proposal and on other rules that would set standards for follow-up care and equipment maintenance at abortion centers.

If the proposal passes, the next step would be to ask for public comment.

Earlier this month, abortion practitioner Deborah Lyn Levich, who worked at the Summit Medical Center abortion facility that was permanently closed in June after state health officials found numerous violations, let her medical license expire.

Levich let Janet Onthank King, 58, give the abortion drug to a woman with severely high blood pressure who needed medical attention. The woman later gave birth to a stillborn baby because the drug is only allowed for use in the early parts of pregnancy.

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."

Following the incident, King fabricated the abortion center’s records in an attempt to cover up what happened.

Authorities arrested King in December and charged her with misdemeanor charges including performing illegal abortions.

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.

Then, in November, state officials found the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville violated 10 different health codes.

The state health department found the abortion center put women at risk by having those who called the facility experiencing medical problems after an abortion routed through to the abortion business administrator rather than a doctor.

Women who had serious bleeding or other complications following an abortion were not put in touch with a licensed physician.

Others were sent home early without allowing them any recovery time following the surgery.

The state health department also said the AWCRA abortion center routinely failed to document the gestational age of the unborn child prior to doing the abortion.