Close unlicensed ‘legal back-alley abortion clinic,’ pro-life attorney tells Alabama judge
BIRMINGHAM, AL, August 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A judge has put off until later in the week a decision about whether to close a Birmingham abortion facility with a troubled history that is currently operating without a license.
Judge Joseph Boohaker of the Jefferson County Circuit Court said on Monday that he would decide by week's end whether to finally close the New Woman All Women Health Care facility. The abortion center been ordered to be sold and its owner, Diane Derzis, signed a consent form agreeing to have nothing to do with the office.
But the Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) has provided photographs, eyewitness testimony, online advertisements, and an undercover phone call proving the facility is still performing abortions with no license. The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) said in February those actions are “in violation of state law.”
Derzis claims the facility is now a private doctor's office, where she is only the landlord. The abortionist – Dr. Bruce Norman, who previously worked directly for Derzis – says since he performs less than 30 abortions a month, he is exempt from complying with relevant health and safety restrictions.
If true, that would be a significant decrease from NWAW, which performed 150 abortions a month.
But ADPH attorney Brian Hale said Monday that Derzis “figured out a way to skirt the law” by “playing a shell game” with the state over who manages the business and said utility and phone records prove Derzis still pulls the strings.
Dana Cody, LLDF executive director, told LifeSiteNews.com, “If the court doesn’t permanently enjoin the defendants from providing abortion, Birmingham will have a legal back-alley abortion clinic.”
“The same abortionist who was operating at the same location, and who was investigated by the ADPH and subsequently had his license revoked by the ADPH, has never shown he corrected any of the deficiencies from the investigation,” Cody told LifeSiteNews. “And now, because of a regulation that states if 30 or less abortions are performed at a clinic no license is needed, there is a possibility that the clinic may stay open.”
Last January, two victims of botched abortions performed by Dr. Norman were hand-carried to an ambulance’s gurney, because the facility is not accessible for emergency care workers. The ambulance had been turned away an hour earlier, then returned to the scene.
The state accused Norman of falsifying his patients' charts, saying he marked down that the women walked out of his office “with no distress.”
In all, the facility's violations of code filled a 76-page report.
Despite all the evidence it had to work with, pro-life observers say the health department seemed to falter in presenting its case on Monday.
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Cody said in a press release, "I was appalled by ADPH's behavior at this hearing. They offered hardly any evidence, made no objections, and – to be honest – made no real attempt to defend the interests of the citizens they are meant to serve. If it wasn't for Judge Boohaker asking some imperative questions himself and pushing to find the details needed to decide this case, I would say there was little hope. All we can do now is pray that this judge makes a good decision."
In the same press release, Rev. Terry Gensemer, the director of CEC For Life, said, "It was incredibly disheartening to see ADPH's attorneys acting almost bewildered while trying to present to the judge. Why were they so disorganized in such a clear-cut case?"
Sarah Howell, a main organizer for the #ShutDerzisDown Tweetfest that encouraged the facility's closure on Monday added in that press release, "Kermit Gosnell, who is now serving a life sentence, was only able to get away with his horrific abortion practice because state regulatory agencies stood down and let abortion clinics go unregulated. No one wants that in Alabama. I truly hope that Judge Boohaker will be as thorough in his decision as he was in the hearing today.”
But overall, the parties said the judge seemed to pursue the right questions, even when the state health department made a less-than-emphatic case.
Cody told LifeSiteNews, “Judge Boohaker asked some great questions regarding operations, and we are praying that he sees through the shell game and permanently shuts down the clinic.”