Attorney General Sues to Close Two Michigan Abortion Clinics

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 7, 2011   |   4:28PM   |   Lansing, MI

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit in Eaton County Circuit Court to permanently close two abortion centers, the Health Care Clinic in Delta Township and the Women’s Choice Clinic in Saginaw.

“To ensure accountability and patient safety, Michigan law requires medical facilities to be incorporated with a licensed medical professional at the helm,” he said. “Strict enforcement of the law ensures medical clinics cannot put profit ahead of responsible patient care.”

The lawsuit follows one Schuette and the Michigan Department of Community Health filed earlier this year against the Lathrup Village-based WomanCare of Southfield abortion center saying it had been operating without a valid license since last summer. The state’s top attorney has said the licensing is required of any private physician offices in which at least half of the patients get an abortion.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing applauded the lawsuit, saying, “I laud Attorney General Schuette for following the law and pressing charges against these two abortion businesses. Those involved in the occupation of abortion are not above the law. Our attorney general has uncovered violations which should result in Health Care Clinic and Women’s Choice Clinic being shut down.”

The lawsuit seeks to permanently dissolve Health Care Clinic, of Delta Township, and the affiliated Women’s Choice Clinic, of Saginaw and to enjoin the abortion clinic’s owner, Richard Remund, from ever organizing any other company for a similar purpose.

The action comes as the result of an Attorney General investigation into allegations of improper medical records disposal at the clinics.  In addition to the lawsuit filed today, Schuette referred evidence uncovered by investigators suggesting possible regulatory violations to the Bureau of Health Systems and the Bureau of Health Professionals, agencies within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Two state legislators also applauded the attorney general for taking the action.

“It’s widely known that employees at these facilities tossed unborn babies in the trash, so it is not surprising to find more evidence of callous disregard for state laws intended to protect patient safety,” said Senator Rick Jones. “I applaud Attorney General Schuette for taking steps to hold these facilities accountable.”

“This commonsense enforcement of state law governing medical clinics is long overdue,” added Representative Deb Shaughnessy. “No one should be exempt from following laws passed to preserve health, safety and welfare.  I thank Attorney General Schuette for working to shut down this clinic and put patient safety first.”

Schuette filed the Quo Warranto complaint today in Eaton County Circuit Court, asking the Court to dissolve the Delta Township Health Care Clinic, Inc. and its affiliated Women’s Choice Clinic, Inc., located in Saginaw.  The complaint also seeks temporary and permanent injunctions to halt clinic operations and prevent the clinic’s owner, directors and shareholders from incorporating a similar facility.  Schuette notes in the complaint that State law restricts the organization of for-profit corporations that provide medical care services to licensed medical professionals only.  The clinics’ owner, Richard Remund, is not a licensed medical professional.

In addition to filing today’s lawsuit, Schuette made two referrals to state agencies requesting additional investigation to determine if state regulations governing medical facilities and professionals were violated.

He asked the State Bureau of Health Systems to review evidence suggesting that 50% or more of the medical procedures performed at the clinics may be abortions.  If that is the case, the clinics must be licensed under the Public Health Code as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities.  Such a license would require the facilities to comply with more stringent state regulations to protect patient safety and welfare (MCL 333.20115).

Schuette also asked the State Bureau of Health Professions to review evidence suggesting the improper disposal of medical records at the clinics.  Disposing of medical records improperly may subject the associated licensed medical professionals to disciplinary measures.

After receiving a complaint in April 2010 documenting the improper disposal of unborn babies with ordinary trash in dumpsters outside the Health Care Clinic in Delta Township, the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation in coordination with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department, Eaton County Prosecutor Jeff Sauter, and the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department.   Results of the joint investigation included evidence the clinics were improperly incorporated and may have violated additional state regulations

Due to shortcomings in the law, Representative Jones has since introduced legislation that would create a civil penalty for the improper disposal of fetal remains.  Senate Bill 25 establishes requirements for the proper disposal, and SB 54 requires physicians to inform parents that state law mandates them to authorize the final disposition of their baby.  Schuette supports the legislation, which has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House for consideration.

View a copy of the complaint.