Alabama Abortion Clinic Loses Desperate Bid to Stay Open

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 30, 2012   |   4:05PM   |   Birmingham, AL

An Alabama abortion facility has failed in its attempt to transfer ownership in order to avoid an impending order from the state health department that it close soon after three women were injured in botched abortions in recent months.

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a press release today announcing the denial of an application to take over operations of the New Woman All Women abortion clinic that was ordered closed by the state after 76 pages of health code violations were discovered.

The consent agreement that ordered the closure provided for a transfer of ownership to a new applicant by May 4 with the proviso that the new applicant be unaffiliated with the current owner, Diane Derzis. A letter sent last week to the ADPH by Life Legal Defense Foundation that was signed by CEC for Life, Operation Rescue, and other groups revealed connections between the new applicant, Ochata Management and its agent Marianne Kelley Rain-water and Derzis.

“A business lease agreement that was submitted in support of the application includes a provision in regard to monthly rent whereby the landlord identified as the outgoing operator and tenant identified as the proposed new operator agreed to meet on a monthly basis to mutually determine the center’s monthly income and monthly overhead,” the Alabama Health Department said today. “The provision further provides that the excess of monthly income over monthly overhead is to be considered as rent due and payable to the landlord.”

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue was elated by the news.

“It’s shocking that Derzis attempted to deceive the ADPH with such an obvious and shady ploy that would have allowed her to direct the clinic and collect all the clinic profits as ‘rent’ in full violation of the consent order,” he said. “We are excited at this victory, but will remain vigilant in the event that these people try some other dirty deal to keep the mill open. We thank everyone who called and sent e-mails to Alabama authorities asking for them to reject this new license. Your voices were heard.”

New Woman All Women came under scrutiny after pro-life activists documented two abortion patients being carried out of the clinic to awaiting ambulances and filed complains. The result was an inspection that found “multiple and serious violations of State Board of Health rules” according to the ADPH, prompting the order to close the clinic. The investigation found a third abortion patient was also transported to the hospital in recent months following a failed abortion.

According to public records reviewed by Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) attorneys, there was an applicant for a new license to take over operations after the NWAW license must be surrendered. Public records show that the new applicant has ties to current clinic owner Diane Derzis, which according to the Consent Order, “the applying entity or individual must be ‘independent from and not affiliated with New Woman or its officers or directors…’.”

LLDF attorneys suspect this was a way for Derzis to continue to operate once she has surrendered her license. LLDF attorney Allison Aranda sent a letter on April 24 to the ADPH in order to be sure that the Consent Order is strictly followed.

“How can a clinic’s license be revoked by Consent Order of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and be allowed to remain open?” Dana Cody, Executive Director, Life Legal Defense Foundation, asked. “Despite 76 pages of code violations that endanger the public safety and health of women entering the New Woman All Women (NWAW) abortion clinic, the ADPH Consent Order revoking their license does just that. If this was a restaurant with as many violations, it would have been shut down immediately.”

Among the LLDF findings in public records, on April 7, 2012 media in Birmingham News reported that ADPH’s Brian Hale said that there were no applicants for a new license at that time. However, the LLDF found a copy of the license application from Marianne Kelley Rain-water, who is connected to Derzis dated March 30 — nearly a week before the media announcement and three days before Derzis even signed the order to surrender her license.

According to the consent order prepared by the ADPH, the entity applying for a new license must be “independent from and not affiliated with” New Woman or its officers or directors, including Diane Derzis. The LLDF letter asks, “How would Ms. Rain-water, a person who claims no previous affiliation with the mentioned parties, know to apply for the license of the New Woman facility days before Diane Derzis signed her consent agreement and ADPH notified the public?”

Rain-water’s address is listed on the application as 1316 16th St S, Birmingham, Alabama, which is a home LLDF found is owned by Diane Derzis.

The pro-life legal group says a background check on Rain-water reveals the use of multiple aliases across several different states and it says her current driver’s license uses the name M K Rain, not Rain-water.

The LLDF also says the applying LLC on the Initial Licensure Application, Ochata Management, was created by Ms. Rain-Water on March 21 — just days prior to submitting her application. The lawyer who handled the incorporation of this LLC, Steve Cochrun, also handled the incorporation of Diane Derzis’ LLC for her abortion facility in Columbus, Georgia.