Unlicensed Abortion Clinic Could Be Closed by Court in Alabama

Alabama state attorneys argued in court today against an abortion clinic in Birmingham that they claim functions illegally as it lacks a license and does not meet the state's safety requirements for abortion facilities.

Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker heard testimony from state attorneys on Monday regarding the New Women All Women abortion clinic, which had its health license revoked last year after the Department of Health cited several health code violations.

Diane Derzis, the alleged former owner of the clinic, claims that she no longer has anything to do with the clinic except for having an office in the same building and controlling the building's rent. The Department of Health argued on Monday, however, that utility payments and phone records show that she is still involved with the abortion clinic.

Similarly, Bruce Norman, the alleged abortion doctor at New Women All Women, who previously had his license revoked by the Department of Health, reportedly testified Monday that he performs less than 30 abortions per month at the clinic. Alabama law states that in order for a clinic to be certified as an abortion provider, it must perform 30 or more abortions per month for any two months in the calendar year. Otherwise, the clinic constitutes a private physician's office. 

Dana Cody, the executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case urging the court to close the clinic, told The Christian Post Monday that she was "totally appalled" with the attorneys representing the Department of Health, arguing that they did not exercise their full legal power in fighting against the abortion clinic. Cody told CP that the Department of Health attorneys failed to object when necessary, and failed to call any witnesses to the stand except Derzis.

Cody told CP that Monday's court proceedings were "unbelievable" and that she believes the attorneys did an "absolutely inept job," but she commends Judge Boohaker for asking "really good, perceptive questions."

Although Cody told CP that she is not certain how Judge Boohaker will rule, she argues that if the judge rules in favor of keeping the abortion clinic open, she encourages residents of Alabama to contact their local legislature to have laws regarding abortion clinics changed.

Cody points specifically to the Alabama law which requires a clinic to have an abortion license only if it performs 30 or more abortions per month.

The clinic offers "substandard care, and women are literally in danger. If that regulation does not changed, then Birmingham will have a legal, back alley abortion clinic," Cody told CP. "We're just praying that the judge will see through the shell game and make a ruling that permanently closes the clinic. The license has been revoked, enough is enough."

Cody also made a connection between the New Women All Women Clinic and the "house of horrors" abortion clinic previously run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, Penn. Gosnell was recently found guilty of first-degree murder of three newborns, as well as involuntary manslaughter of one of his patients.

"If Bruce Norman's practices are so shoddy and he's using substandard equipment how does he really know what he's doing? This is one of the same things that came out in the Gosnell case […] Gosnell didn't follow state regulations and he ended up injuring and killing women. I really don't understand why abortion providers get a free pass when it comes to regulation," Cody said.

Following Gosnell's conviction, several states have attempted to pass stricter regulations for abortion clinics. For example, Texas recently passed a law that makes abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Alabama also recently passed strict abortion legislation, although these laws have been temporary suspended by federal judges.

Judge Boohaker is expected to rule on the future of the New Women All Women abortion clinic by Friday.

Howard Miles, the attorney representing Derzis, told The Birmingham News that he refuses to speculate on the judge's ruling. 

"We had a chance to put on all of our evidence, and now the judge will enter an order," Miles said on Monday.