Controversial abortion clinic owner in court in Alabama as state seeks to close clinic

By Dave Andrusko

Abortion clinic operator Diane Derzis

Abortion clinic operator Diane Derzis

Following a hearing today, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker said he would rule by Friday whether to shut down the New Woman All Women Health Care.

Brian Hale, an attorney with the Alabama Department of Health Department, argued “that abortion executive Diane Derzis and Dr. Bruce Norman are wrongly running the clinic in downtown Birmingham despite Derzis surrendering her abortion clinic license last year” because of multiple health violations, the Associated Press’s Jay Reeves reported.

Hale said she had “figured out a way to skirt the law by having Norman continue to operate her clinic after it got into trouble with the state,” Reeves wrote. “That’s all that is being done there,” Hale said.

The state contends that Derzis is “playing a legal shell game,” Reeves wrote.

“Derzis says the brick building isn’t an abortion clinic at all, but a doctor’s office operated by a physician [Norman] who rents the building from her,” Reeves reported. “She says he performs fewer than 30 abortions a month. For state regulations for abortion clinics to apply, a facility must perform at least 30 procedures a month for at least two months of the year.”

“Alabama state attorneys say Dr. Bruce Norman has been performing abortions illegally in Derzis’ building since she, partner Patrick Smith and their businesses agreed last year to surrender the license,” according to Reeves. “They were cited for dozens of problems, including inadequate care for patients.”

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Boohaker’s decision, Reeves concluded, “could hinge on whether he decides the facility is an abortion clinic under state law or a doctor’s office. Clinics are required to meet more extensive standards similar to those imposed on hospitals, while doctor’s offices do not.”

Derzis, who has abortion clinics in Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia, is best known for her lengthy, ongoing battle with the state of Mississippi. HB 1390 was originally set to go into effect July 1, 2012, but at the eleventh hour Judge Daniel P. Jordan temporarily blocked Mississippi from enforcing the law that requires that all abortionists be board-certified and have admitting privileges to a local hospital. Jordan has continued to prevent the law from taking effect and has blocked any civil or criminal penalties against the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and its employees.