Whitewashed Tombs: An Architect Plans to Transform This Abortion Clinic Into “Something Beautiful”

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 26, 2014   |   5:05PM   |   Jackson, MS

How do you killing babies in abortions less objectionable? Apparently you hire an architect to make the outside of the abortion clinic “something beautiful.”

That’s what’s happening in Jackson, Mississippi — where the last remaining abortion facility in the state is hoping a new facade will help it stay open and attract even more business for its abortion practitioners.

Here’s a puff piece from the radically pro-abortion blog Salon with more about the outside transformation of the infomous pink Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion center:

Across the country, small regulations about the length of hallways and requirements about transforming clinics into mini-hospitals have shuttered providers and blocked access to safe abortion care to hundreds of thousands of women. In such a climate, the look and feel of a clinic — how the built environment and aesthetic quality of the space can shape the patient experience, for example — almost seems like an afterthought. When the fight is about keeping the doors open and the lights on, the possibility that a clinic might be beautiful as well as functional can feel a bit audacious.

But not to the women and men who work in our clinics or the patients they serve. And not to Lori Brown, an associate professor of architecture at Syracuse University who is currently working to transform the facade of Mississippi’s last abortion clinic into something safe, functional — and extraordinarily beautiful.

jwhoThe Jackson Women’s Health Organization is already a dazzling pink, and clinic owner Diane Derzis and clinic director Shannon Brewer-Anderson have invested a lot of time, resources and thought into making the clinic feel safe and welcoming to the women they serve. But the clinic is surrounded by a wide fence to keep out a regular collection of protesters. And in order to provide additional protection and privacy to patients and the people who work there, the fence is woven through with a thick black tarp. The impression from outside is something like the clinic is caught inside a massive garbage bag.

Brown is working in collaboration with the clinic to change that. She put out a call for proposals on how to transform the exterior of the clinic, and will begin work after selecting the final design. In an event Brown organized in collaboration with the New School in New York City, designers shared ideas for walls of lush flora and vegetation and inflatable and interactive sound barriers that add an element of playfulness to an often tense and confrontational zone.

She wants the final design to serve the needs of the clinic and, as she told me when we talked last month, to affirm and support the women who inhabit the space. We talked about the project, what Brown views as a lack of engagement from her field on issues of political relevance, the relationship between the built environment and the patient experience and how space can be playful, beautiful, functional and safe all at once.

Sadly, what goes on inside the abortion center gets much less attention.

Last year, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion clinic put one woman in the hospital following a botched abortion.

An ambulance arrived at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, at about 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, August 7, and transported a female patient who emerged from the clinic in Mississippi on a gurney. The pale-skinned, brown-haired woman was covered head to toe with a blanket.

The owners haven’t fared any better with another clinic they operated in neighboring Alabama.

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Last year, three women who were subjected to abortions by Norman at Derzis’ Birmingham abortion clinic were hospitalized due to abortion complications at New Woman All Women. The ADPH inspected the clinic and discovered 76-pages of health and safety code deficiencies. The clinic was forced to close after the ADPH and Derzis agreed to a consent order that banned Derzis from having anything to do with any future abortion clinic or from hiring Norman to do abortions. After two failed attempts to relicense the clinic, Derzis and Norman reopened the clinic without licensure and have been operating illegally as a “doctor’s office” whose only “service” is abortions.

“It is frustrating to see Derzis and Norman continuing to operate their dangerous abortion businesses, shipping one woman after another off to emergency rooms, while laws that would protect the public are impeded by the courts,” said Newman. “It’s time for the judges in Mississippi and Alabama remove the impediments and allow authorities to enforce the laws and close Derzis’ seedy and dangerous abortion operations. If the judges had not blocked the abortion laws in the first place, that woman in Mississippi would be safe today.”

But at least the outside of the clinic looks good, right?