Multiply Justice

A different kind of back alley

Betsy Childs writes at The Gospel Coalition about a Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic where two women who had received substandard treatment were taken away in ambulances after being brought down the back stairs into the alley where a gurney waited beside the dumpster. An Alabama Department of Public Health investigation resulted in a shocking 76-page “report of deficiencies”:

new woman clinicJust this month, the governor of Alabama signed into law the Women’s Health and Safety Act. This new law requires that a physician must remain present at an abortion clinic until all of the patients are discharged.  It requires clinics to meet the same building code standards as an ambulatory surgical center. It requires that doctors who perform abortions in Alabama must have admitting privileges at a local hospital (something that Bruce E. Norman, the doctor present when the Vasopressin mistake was made, does not have).

A standard defense of Roe v. Wade is that women will have abortions whether they are legal or not. If they are legal, at least we can regulate them, the logic goes. But the same people who make this argument have protested the Women’s Health and Safety Act as a back-door effort to take away access to abortion. Planned Parenthood has gone on record as saying that the act (which, remember, requires doctors to remain present with their patients and admit them to the hospital when necessary) will not improve the health and safety of women. Clinic administrators argue that creating extra-wide doorways that can accommodate gurneys will place an undue financial burden on clinics, forcing them to close.

Sometime in early 2013, activity at the New Woman Clinic resumed. The clinic’s website advertising abortions had never been taken down. Someone was again answering the phone. And Dr. Norman was seen coming and going from the clinic.

On March 26, the Alabama Department of Health filed a civil complaint against the clinic, which, according to the complaint, continued to offer “abortion services to the public without a license.”

In response, the lawyer for Norman made an unexpected defense. Scott Morro told The Birmingham News that so long as Norman performs fewer than 30 abortions a month, the clinic doesn’t need a license. Brian Hale, deputy general counsel for the ADPH, said that the issue will have to be settled in court.

At the time of this writing, the website for the New Woman Clinic is still advertising abortions. Presumably, so long as the clinic owner can find a loophole in the law to keep from being regulated, they will continue. If there is another medication error, Bruce Norman or whoever else is minding the sedated patient will have to call an ambulance and take her out the back door and through the alley.

Read the full text of this excellent article by clicking here.

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