7/1/2006 - July 2006 Educational Update - Death of an Abortion Clinic - Summit Medical Center of Alabama, Inc.
AN EDUCATIONAL UPDATE FROM
THE SOUTHEAST LAW INSTITUTE™, INC.
To: SLI Supporters
Date: July 2006
From: A. Eric Johnston
Re: Death of An Abortion Clinic – Summit Medical Center of Alabama, Inc.
The Summit Medical Center of Alabama, Inc. (“Summit”) has been a licensed abortion clinic in Birmingham since 1981. Through the years it has been the focal point of pro-life versus abortion rights activities of virtually every description. In the late 1980’s “Operation Rescue” came to Birmingham through local citizens. Those citizens exercised classic civil disobedience with sit-in demonstrations at Summit, as well as other clinics in the Birmingham area. This generated state criminal prosecutions of the good pro-life citizens, as well as later RICO (racketeering charges) and, even later, federal court lawsuits under FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act).
In 1990 when the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, Inc. (“APLC”) introduced legislation to prohibit or regulate abortion, Summit was the leader of the opposition in the legislature. For the better part of that decade, APLC introduced legislation each year through pro-life legislators and with Summit’s leadership, abortion rights advocates opposed that legislation through pro-abortion legislators.
At various times during these years and particularly of late, Summit has been the purveyor of substandard healthcare for women. One of the most significant incidents was in 2004 when charges were filed against Dr. Malachy DeHenre, whose license was suspended as a result of a patient dying in 2003 at Summit.
Since then and for sometime we have known that Summit was performing procedures not permitted by law and otherwise violating the standards set by Alabama Department of Public Health regulations. In recent months, we were encouraging investigations that would reveal not only was Summit engaged in the killing of children, but it was doing so in one of the most inhuman ways possible. Women were being subjected to unsafe healthcare practices.
On February 26, 2006, the Health Department finally had proof of these unlawful procedures. A patient presented at a local emergency room “with the head of the baby protruding” and delivered a “stillborn, macerated six pound, four ounce baby.” Investigation proved that a non-physician misread an ultrasound and administered RU-486, an abortifacient, to the patient when she had a “critical and dangerously high” blood pressure reading. The Health Department immediately suspended Summit’s license. Obviously, this baby was viable and clearly beyond the time that an abortifacient should be administered. As a result, Summit was cited to a hearing to determine whether to revoke its license.
Further investigation by the Health Department established a number of separate and numerous incidents, including performing ultrasounds and administering RU-486 without a physician present, performing abortions on a number of patients whose unborn children were probably viable, yet no determination of viability was made, physicians leaving the clinic premises when patients were not ready for discharge, and violation of other lesser regulations.
As a result, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006, Summit surrendered its license, waived its right to a hearing and agreed to close its clinic. After 25 years of death to thousands of unborn children and the untiring efforts of the pro-life community, Summit has finally closed its doors. We are wary its owners may try to re-open under another name.
While we regret that it has taken so long and inspections of abortion clinics are not frequent enough, for this final event, we are grateful to Dr. Donald Williamson and his staff at the Alabama Department of Public Health. We urge our supporters to write Dr. Williamson (201 Monroe Street, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017) thanking him for his cooperation and his efforts.
In addition to violation of Health Department regulations, a number of criminal laws have been violated. Perhaps the most serious would be the violation of the “Post-viability Abortion Ban Law,” Section 26-22-3, 1975 Code of Alabama. An intentional violation of this statute is a Class A felony, a very serious crime. We have written Attorney General Troy King (11 South Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130) and District Attorney David Barber (801 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203-2320) requesting they prosecute all culpable persons. They have responded they are investigating. We urge you to write and encourage them.
It has been a long and very difficult road. SLI has been involved at every step of the way and we are grateful for the opportunity to have supported and assisted pro-life individuals and organizations who have worked through these years. The job is not done. There are other abortion clinics and the prospect that Summit could re-open. We must continue our efforts to pass laws that will someday reverse the fatal holding of Roe v. Wade. Until that time, we must do all we can to discourage women from taking the lives of their children and we must insist that abortion clinics meet the same high standards of healthcare that we expect from any healthcare facility.
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