by Steven Ertelt
October 10, 2007
Montgomery, AL (LifeNews.com) — Now that the state’s eight abortion center are all in compliance with state health and safety regulations, health department officials say they will conduct annual inspections to make sure the abortion businesses continue to follow the law. State Health Officer Don Williams said officials will have probed all eight by December.
Now that he has more staff members, Williams promises to make sure every abortion center in the state gets a thorough checkup.
"I would anticipate this year not finding any problems as we had in the last few years," Williamson told the Associated Press. "We are in the process of having adequate staffing now and can complete inspections in a more timely fashion than we’ve ever done them."
The investigations are important because three Alabama abortion centers have had to close or shut down temporarily for health problems that put women’s lives at risk. And they hadn’t received a complete overview from the health department in five years.
Diane Derzis, who owns the New Women All Women abortion center in Birmingham, which was one of the facilities put on probation, spoke with AP about her facility getting its license back.
"When you’re on probation it’s a constant presence there and you’re fearful that regardless of how well you conduct business and how well you do things — the fact that you’re on probation is always in the midst of that," she said.
One of the issues there was that abortion facility staff were ordering prescription medications for their own use.
Meanwhile, John D. Smith, director of the pro-life group Mission of Life, hopes more abortion centers will close down.
"We think it’s very important that women’s health is protected by inspections and for too long the abortion clinics in America have been given a free pass and blind eye," he said.
The Beacon Women’s Center and Reproductive Health Services abortion business in Montgomery and the New Women All Women Health Care in Birmingham saw their licenses downgraded to probationary status last year.
Beacon and New Women All Women Health Care were reinstated on October 1 and Reproductive Health’s license was restored in July.
The actions against them came after state health officials found significant concerns at the Summit Medical Center abortion center in Birmingham.
The abortion facility that was permanently closed in June 2006 after state health officials found numerous violations, including a nurse there giving 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, nurse Janet Onthank 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.
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.