By Cheryl Sullenger

Tuscaloosa, AL – A woman who died after leaving the West Alabama Women’s Center (WAWC) abortion facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on May 7, 2020, has been identified through her autopsy report as 29-year-old April Lowery.

The report was obtained by the CEC for Life on behalf of a coalition of national and local pro-life groups that also includes Operation Rescue, Life Legal Defense Foundation, and Pro-Life Tuscaloosa.

Lowery was seen on May 7, 2020, leaving the WAWC by pro-life activists, who described her as “sick and pale.”  She had to be physically supported as she struggled to walk from the clinic to an awaiting private vehicle, which then reportedly transported her to what is believed to have been UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where she was later pronounced dead.

One local pro-life activist had been wrongly told by at least one WAWC employee that Lowery had died from a drug overdose and that she had not even wanted an abortion. 

Now, the coalition of pro-life groups has now learned her true cause of death, which has led to questions about whether she was coerced or forced into having the surgical abortion.

While Fentanyl was found in her system, that is a common drug used by abortion facilities as a pre-abortion sedative.  Several drugs were listed on Lowery’s toxicology report, including an anxiety drug and marijuana, but none of those were responsible for her death. 

The cause of death listed on Lowery’s autopsy report was “Uterine perforation,” a known complication to surgical abortions.

The autopsy described Lowery’s fatal wounds in detail. 

There is a is a perforation of the left portion of the cervix, below the internal cervical os.  The perforation extends into the broad ligament with maceration of the lower uterine segment and vasculature of the broad ligament.  This is associated with massive hemoperitoneum (approximately 1-1/2 liters). The uterus contains an intact fetus.

In layman’s terms, a hole was torn in the lower part of Lowery’s womb, missing her growing baby.  That wound led to severe damage to a portion of a broad ligament and blood vessels, which were macerated, or chewed up, by abortion instruments.  This caused massive internal bleeding of approximately 51 ounces, which resulted in Lowery’s death. 

This diagram shows how Lowery’s abortion was botched, based on the description in her autopsy report.

Her dead unborn baby was found intact within her injured womb.  No gestational age or sex for the baby was noted in the autopsy report.

It is no wonder that Lowery looked pale and needed support to walk the few feet to the awaiting vehicle after her abortion.  Lowery must have continued to hemorrhage internally during the 59-mile drive to Birmingham from the Tuscaloosa abortion facility.  By the time she reached the hospital, it was too late to save her life.

It seems that the story told to the pro-life activist about a drug overdose was disinformation on the part of the clinic worker.  Lowery’s internal injuries could only have been caused by a severely botched abortion.

Other findings

Sadly, the autopsy report revealed other findings about Lowery’s health that were unrelated to her pregnancy and cause of death.

The report noted that even though Lowery was 29, she looked older than her age.  Calcium deposits were found on one of her heart valves that narrowed the opening, indicating early stages of heart disease.

Then there were the multiple transversal scars noted across her left wrist, suggesting a possible suicide attempt sometime in her past.

“These findings are indicative of a woman who led a difficult and tragic life,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.  “It is sad that her life ended in further tragedy for her and her unborn baby.”

Delay in autopsy report release

Under normal circumstances, the release of autopsy reports usually takes 6-8 weeks.  Lowery’s took over eight months. 

A request for her autopsy report was made in August 2020, after a phone call to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science Headquarters confirmed the report was finally available.  However, that request was later denied, citing the fact that there was an ongoing criminal investigation into Lowery’s death.

Screen capture from April Lowery’s autopsy report noting her cause of death as “Uterine perforation.”

The denial letter stated in part, “District Attorney Hays Webb has notified the Alabama Department of Forensic Science that this case remains under criminal investigation. . . Consequently, the final reports in this case are not currently public record.”

A follow-up request was made in January 2021, and a copy of April Lowery’s autopsy was finally released at the request of Dr. Patricia Gensemer of the CEC for Life. The public availability of the autopsy report indicated that the criminal investigation also concluded.

A message left with the office of Captain Jack Kennedy of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit requesting information about the disposition of the criminal investigation was not returned as of this writing.

Review finds fault

The CEC for Life submitted the autopsy report for analysis by an ObGyn licensed in the State of Alabama.  That doctor, whose name is being withheld at this time, concluded that the treatment and injuries suffered by Lowery were egregious and violated the standard of care.  He volunteered to testify about his conclusions should a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit ever be filed against the abortion business and/or the abortionist.

“April suffered horrendous, avoidable injuries that resulted in her death and the death of her child.  This cannot be allowed to be swept under the rug.  Someone needs to be held accountable in a court of law for this tragic loss of life,” said Dr. Terry Gensemer, Director of the CEC for Life.

New ownership

One of the entities that is obviously responsible is the West Alabama Women’s Center, which has accumulated several legal problems over the past few months.

The WAWC changed ownership in May 2020 – the same month April Lowery underwent a fatal abortion.  In fact, the new owner assumed the administration of the facility the same week as Lowery’s death. 

The abortion business was sold by long-time owner Gloria Gray to Amanda Reyes, a LGBTQ activist and former abortion clinic escort who had no medical training or background.  She served as founder and director for the Yellowhammer Fund, which provided limited financial assistance for women seeking abortions.  It had earlier received a windfall of more than $2 million in donations almost overnight after the passage of the Alabama Human Life Protection Act in 2019.  Part of that money was used to purchase the WAWC.

During the time that Lowery visited the WAWC, it was still operating under a facility license issued to former owner Gloria Gray in violation of Alabama Administrative Code Chapter 420-5-1, which requires the issuance of a new license upon change of ownership. 

As of March 10, 2020, when Operation Rescue first reported on Lowery’s death, the WAWC had not yet been inspected after Reyes took control. It was last inspected in January 2019.  The lack of an inspection and the Alabama Department of Public Health’s reluctance to follow their own licensing laws has prompted the coalition of pro-life groups to lodge a formal complaint with the ADPH over the WAWC’s noncompliance with the Alabama Administrative Code.

Abortionist unfit?

The abortionist most likely on duty the day of Lowery’s fatal abortion was octogenarian Louis T. Payne.  He retired on July 24, 2020, several weeks after Lowery’s avoidable death.  This was Payne’s second retirement.  He initially retired in 2015, but soon returned to work at the WAWC when Gloria Gray could not find another abortionist to replace him.

Perhaps not coincidentally, on October 19, 2020, Payne voluntarily surrendered his medical license while under active investigation by the ADPH on unspecified disciplinary charges.  According to Payne’s surrender documents, the license surrender had the same effect as a revocation. Payne agreed not to seek license re-instatement.

More problems

Payne was replaced by Utah abortionist Leah Torres, who is perhaps best known as an internet troll that targets pro-life Twitter accounts.

Abortionist Leah Torres

While Torres conducted abortions briefly under a temporary Alabama medical license, the State Board of Medical Examiners ordered her to cease and desist the practice of medicine and surrender her temporary license last August after the Board found that she had fraudulently answered four questions on her application for a permanent license.

Today, her Alabama license status is listed as “Expired.”

Abortions halted for now

Finding an abortionist that was willing to travel to Tuscaloosa has been no easy task for Reyes, as the former owner also discovered. WAWC has been conducting abortions on a sporadic basis over the past few months.

Now, the abortion facility has temporarily halted abortions altogether, referring women instead to an abortion business in Huntsville.  It remains open on a limited schedule for non-abortion related business. 

The staff appears to spend most of their time fundraising through the Yellowhammer Fund, whose bank account now seems to be significantly depleted. 

Just days ago, the abortion facility staff was begging for funds on Facebook because their building needs a new roof, which they say will cost the princely sum of $35,000.

Meanwhile, Ellen Herman, Director of Pro-Life Tuscaloosa, recently circulated a photo of a Stericycle driver wheeling a stack of empty red biohazard bins out of the West Alabama Women’s clinic.  These are the bins that usually hold the remains of aborted babies and infectious waste generated by the abortions, which had been halted temporarily at WAWC.

Just this week, the WAWC once again began taking abortion appointments for up to 11 weeks gestation at a cost of $700.00 — $150 of that non-refundable, should the woman change her mind.

“There are still questions about the dangers at the West Alabama Women’s Center abortion facility. Accountability for the death of April Lowery and her baby is still an unresolved issue. The question also remains unanswered about whether she willingly submitted to the abortion procedure,” said Newman.  “We cannot look the other way and allow this injustice to go unanswered.   Woman’s life was wrongfully taken. That is something that cannot and should not be overlooked.”

Read April Lowery’s autopsy report.