Upated: Illegal abortion facility closed down in Birmingham
Updated at 5:54 p.m. Eastern to include new comment from Allison Aranda.
BIRMINGHAM, AL, August 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Alabama judge has shut down Birmingham's New Women, All Women abortion facility after finding its owner was illegally operating without a state license.
Judge Joseph Boohaker of the Jefferson County Circuit Court also permanently barred its alleged proprietor, Dr. Bruce Norman, from operating an abortion facility at this location in the future.
The decision comes just one day after an ambulance was called to the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi, where Dr. Norman also performs abortions, to transport a pale brunette woman to the hospital.
“In 2012, Norman landed three Alabama women in the hospital in just one day,” Rev. Terry Gensemer, director of CEC For Life, observed. “Now a woman in Mississippi has been harmed. It's only a matter of time before a woman loses her life."
"The only place Bruce Norman should be operating is prison!" said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
Norman and the building's owner, Diane Derzis, work together in both Jackson and Birmingham. Derzis owns the Jackson facility -- the last in the state of Mississippi -- and pro-life plaintiffs accused her of unlawfully retaining ownership of the Birmingham office.
After yesterday's abortion-related injury, pro-lifers had encouraged people to tweet #ShutDownDerzis on Thursday. The hashtag proved prophetic.
Attorney Allison Aranda, senior staff counsel for Life Legal Defense Foundation, told LifeSiteNews.com she was "elated" by Judge Boohaker's decision, noting that "if Norman continues to defy the Alabama Department of Public Health regulations and Judge Boohaker's ruling, ADPH can seek further sanctions against” him.
That could include revocation of his Alabama medical license altogether. "This wouldn't be a bad move by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners in light of recent events in Jackson, Mississippi,” Aranda said.
"We are thankful for the judge’s decision,” said Rev. Gensemer, who is a longtime Birmingham pastor. “However, the law has definitely been broken by Derzis and Norman, and we believe criminal charges should be filed against them. Though we are encouraged to see the state of Alabama taking action to close the doors of this facility, we will continue to pursue these issues with the Attorney General and other prosecutors. We also continue to pray for both Derzis’ and Norman’s conversion.”
The closure comes the same day that the state of Ohio has moved to close a Toledo abortion facility for failing to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. A similar law would have already put the Mississippi facility out of business, had a judge not granted a one-year stay to keep JWHO in business.
Already, there have been 42 abortion facilities closed so far in 2013.
Judge Boohaker's ruling brings to an end a long-running legal dispute about New Women, All Women's ownership and legal status.
The state of Alabama permanently enjoined Derzis from operating an abortion facility after the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) detailed the office's violations of state law in a 76-page report.
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Derzis signed a consent agreement to relinquish ownership. A close associate then attempted to purchase the facility, but the state refused, believing Derzis was using her friend to remain active in the business.
Derzis now claims that she is merely landlord for the building that housed Dr. Norman's private abortion practice, but the ADPH said in court that phone and utility records proved she maintained control.
After the alleged change in ownership, the office lacked state license to perform abortions. The Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) provided ample evidence that Norman continued to perform abortions at the location, anyway.
Norman and Derzis admitted the Birmingham facility did not have a valid state license, but Norman claimed he did not need one, as his private practice was open only one day every other week, and he performed only “12 to 14” abortions “a day.”
An office must perform at least 30 abortions a month before state law requires it to be licensed for the procedure. New Women, All Women formerly performed 150 abortions a month before losing state approbation.
LLDF Executive Director Dana Cody had told LifeSiteNews.com that if the state of Alabama did not close its doors, the facility would be operating as “a legal back-alley abortion clinic.”
"Alabama is well on its way to having its own Gosnell," Newman agreed.
Today's long-sought, hard-fought victory comes despite a court performance from ADPH attorneys that observers called “disorganized.”
Cody said the state “made no real attempt” to defend the law in court – but she said Judge Boohaker asked perceptive questions that would lead him to make the right decision.