Abortion Biz Closes in Knoxville, Tennessee; Can’t Comply With Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 16, 2012   |   3:05PM   |   Knoxville, TN

An abortion business in Knoxville, Tennessee is closing because it can’t comply with a law to ensure women receive emergency medical care in case an abortion goes wrong and their life and health are at risk.

Deb Walsh, owner of Knoxville’s Volunteer Women’s abortion facility, commented its closing.

“I found out last night that I will have to close Volunteer Women’s Medical Clinic, effective today,” she said. “A law that went into effect July 1st 2012 called “The Life Defense Act,” made it illegal for our local, Board Certified OB-GYN physician to perform abortions in our fully licensed Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center.”

“The law requires Drs. Who perform abortions to have local hospital admitting privileges,” she added. “I’ve been able to keep the doors open and the phone staff working up until this week. We’ve been working on legal remedies, injunction, etc., but I was unable to bridge the financial gap of paying the monthly lease and operating expenses without knowing when we could resume seeing patients.”

“I’m so angry about this, also sad… Now, I’ve got to get back to packing,” she said.

Brian Harris, the president of Tennessee Right to Life, said the closing is good news and it means the new law is working as intended — by ensuring that abortion practitioners who can’t admit patients victimized by botched abortions to a local hospital don’t do abortions in Tennessee. He said the law was approved by the state legislature based on concerns for the health and safety of the women considering or undergoing abortions.

“Pro-life Tennesseans are extraordinarily grateful to our legislators for insuring that the most basic, common sense policies and protections are in place to safeguard the health and wellbeing of abortion-vulnerable women in our state,” added Karen Brukardt, longtime Legislative Liaison for Tennessee Right to Life.  “It is common sense that abortion providers ought to have hospital admitting privileges so that when life threatening complications arise, women have continuity of care from the physician most aware of her treatment, health and circumstances.”

“As with the case in Knoxville, if a facility cannot meet the basic criteria of employing a physician with admitting privileges, that should cause all of us to look again at how these abortion facilities are being operated,” Brukardt said.

The abortion facility was hoping to recruit a local doctor who already has admitting privileges to do abortions but, otherwise, they admit abortions may be curtailed for weeks or months until a replacement is found. Even if a physician outside the area is recruited to do abortions and finds a hospital willing to allow admission privileges, it takes 30-60 days for the admitting privileges to be established. That’s a several week time period where women considering abortions may be inclined to keep their baby.

C. Brent Boles, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee OBGYN, strongly supports the new state law.

“Currently, abortion facilities in Tennessee frequently do not provide any resource for patients to receive help or have questions answered after hours or on weekends,” he explained during consideration of it. “Patients are left to fend for themselves. They present to emergency rooms all over the state and they call GYN offices where the providers are not abortion providers and have no experience providing abortion services and they need help.”

“Complications of any procedure are best managed by those providers with the most experience in the particular field…complications of abortion are best managed by abortion providers,” Dr. Boles continued. “In order to have complete access to everything that a post-abortion patient would need, the provider who cares for these patients must have access to the facilities in a hospital….They must have access to the resources needed, and sometimes these resources are available only in a hospital.”

“Abortion providers should have a clear process, communicated to the patient in a simple way, that outlines how the patient is to contact the provider after hours for problems, and where they are to go if they must go to the Emergency Room,” he said.



Requiring abortion practitioners to have such admitting privileges is not new and the state of Indiana has pursued them because of problems with botched abortions.

Because so many women suffer from botched abortions that require immediate follow-up medical care, local officials approved what it said is a needed ordinance. It requires any abortion practitioners coming to Fort Wayne from out of town to inform a local hospital because they would not have proper admitting privileges to admit women who are victimized by failed abortions and need immediate medical care.

A judge issued a ruling that pro-life groups said was favorable for the much-needed law. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Allen County say the court order the judge issued denies most of abortion practitioner George Klopfer’s motion to stop critical aspects of the new Patient Safety Ordinance.

ADF tells LifeNews.com that means those provisions can go into effect and that the door is open for other Indiana counties to enact similar legislation.

“A patient’s health is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden.

“The county simply can’t put the health and safety of patients at risk because one man wants to perform abortions without a sensible safety precaution that applies to all out-of-town physicians, not just abortionists,” he said. “The ordinance is very clearly designed to make sure that patients receive appropriate treatment in a medical emergency that can arise after an itinerant physician has gone back home and is no longer available to care for the patient.”

Dr. Geoff Cly, a Fort Wayne gynecologist who has treated several of a local abortion practitioner’s patients after failed abortions, told the Fort Wayne newspaper at the time the bill is needed.

“I’m disappointed because patients are being harmed and the powers that be aren’t taking action to protect the women,” Cly said. “How can we hold him accountable like the rest of surgeons? Admission privileges are one way. If anyone has any other ways, let me know.”

According to Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group that promotes state legislation, abortion practitioners in eleven states are required to maintain local hospital admitting privileges. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.