OR calls its permanent closure.
Huntsville, AL — A Huntsville, Alabama, abortion mill remains open today in spite of Health Department citations for violations of ten state laws.
Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives was cited during a surprise inspection last month for violations that included forwarding after-hours emergency calls to non-medical personnel, routinely failing to document the gestational age of the pre-born baby, and releasing abortion patients after less than the required 20 minutes in recovery.
The violations indicated a “sloppiness” in the general care of patients, according to Rick Harris, who heads the Bureau of Health Provider Standards. “It makes you wonder, what else are they failing to document?”
Despite the concerns, the abortion mill remains open and no fines are expected because a plan has been submitted to correct the violations.
“This abortion mill has shown a blatant disregard for the laws of Alabama and for the health and safety of women. There is no question that this mill should be closed,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
Operation Rescue has also expressed concern that two other Alabama abortion mills continue to operate under probationary status. One clinic in Birmingham was permanently closed by the state earlier this year.
“The abortionists are worried that if they are inspected they may be forced to shut down,” said Newman. “That should send a real wake-up call to women that American abortion mills are predatory in nature and are willing to sacrifice the health and safety of women in order to compete for the ever-dwindling abortion dollar. If they kill babies for a living, they really are not going to care about the woman, either, except in how they may exploit her and her wallet. Abortion is a real cut-throat business — pun intended.”
“Alabama needs to be more concerned about saving lives than keeping their abortion chop shops open,” he said. “They have to tools to close them with their strict regulations. Now, they need to have the courage to strictly enforce them.”
Abortion clinic cited for violating 10 state laws
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Times Staff Writer steve.doyle@htimes.com
Local facility offers correction plan; no penalties are likely
A Huntsville abortion clinic that is a frequent target of protesters got poor marks on its most recent state inspection.
Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, 612 Madison St., was cited by state inspectors last month for violating 10 state laws governing abortion providers. Among the most serious findings:
Patients who called the clinic after hours because of heavy vaginal bleeding and other complications were connected to an administrator rather than a doctor.
The clinic routinely failed to document the age of fetuses being aborted.
Patients may have been sent home before the required 20-minute recovery period.
Rick Harris, director of the state health department’s Bureau of Health Provider Standards, said the clinic’s failure to keep some mandatory records “indicates a kind of sloppiness.”
“It makes you wonder, what else are they failing to document?” Harris said this week. “It’s not a sign of bad care, but it’s an indicator.”
Even so, the clinic probably will not be penalized by the state because it has submitted a plan for correcting its mistakes.
On Wednesday, clinic administrator Dalton Johnson said after-hours calls are now being routed to an answering service instead of his home telephone. The answering service can quickly reach a doctor, he said.
The unannounced Oct. 5 visit by state health regulators was the Alabama Women’s Center’s first inspection since April 2001, records show.
Don’t expect anymore five-year gaps between checkups, though: State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson has ordered Alabama’s nine abortion clinics to be inspected annually.
The state’s eight abortion clinic inspectors also watch dozens of hospices, dialysis clinics, rehabilitation centers and home health agencies. Harris said the push for more frequent abortion clinic checks means new hospices may have to wait longer for an initial state inspection, which could delay their opening.
During a state Health Department public hearing Monday, Rev. James Henderson, an anti-abortion activist from Morgan County, said a critical state inspection should trigger an automatic 30-day shutdown. Two abortion clinics in Montgomery are still open despite being on state probation, he said.
Henderson, who often protests outside the Alabama Women’s Center, also wants the state to rethink what constitutes an abortion clinic. Now, an obstetrician can terminate up to 29 pregnancies per month without being labeled an abortion provider and facing extra state scrutiny. Henderson says doctors who perform more than five abortions a month should be licensed by the Health Department.
“But with the way the department’s bureaucracy works and all the inertia in the system, I don’t expect a whole lot to happen,” he said this week. “I think they’re afraid of the abortion industry. The whole thing is just messed up.”
Abortion supporters say the current system is working fine. An American Civil Liberties Union official at Monday’s hearing said having an abortion is “at least as safe as a penicillin injection,” with only about 0.3 percent of women experiencing a complication that requires hospital treatment.
The ACLU’s Montgomery branch spoke against several proposed changes to the state’s abortion clinic rules, including a plan to require registered nurses to perform many tasks now done by lower-paid licensed practical nurses.
Such a change would make abortions more expensive and could “shut down some of the few remaining clinics because of the … cost of employing registered nurses,” the ACLU said in a statement.