Judge reaffirms order on unlicensed abortion facility in Birmingham, Alabama

By Dave Andrusko

New Woman All Women Health Care facility in Birmingham, Ala. (Michelle Campbell)

New Woman All Women Health Care facility in Birmingham, Ala. (Michelle Campbell)

We’ve written several times about a facility in Birmingham, Alabama, formerly doing business as New Woman All Women health care facility. The proceedings at times have been mind-numbingly complicated.

On August 8, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker issued a permanent injunction, ordering that abortions could no longer be performed at the clinic because it does not have a license to do so.

If a provider does 30-plus abortions in two months of a calendar year, Alabama law says the facility meets the definition of an abortion clinic and needs a specific license. Abortionist Bruce Norman offered a complicated and unpersuasive argument that the facility did not meet that 30+ threshold and therefore was not an abortion clinic and thus didn’t need a license.

Yesterday Judge Boohaker, in a one-sentence order, said he wouldn’t reconsider his ruling shutting down what amounted to an unlicensed abortion clinic. But, according to Scott Morro, the attorney for Norman, that doesn’t mean Norman can’t perform abortions!

In his original 22-page ruling, Boohaker determined that the clinic did not meet the criteria of a physician’s office which Norman contended allowed it to operate without a specific license to perform abortions. “The court hereby declares that the operation of the Birmingham facility located at 1001 17th St. South in Birmingham, Alabama meets the definition of an abortion or reproductive health center,” Boohaker wrote.

Brian Hale, an attorney with the Alabama Department of Health Department, had argued that abortion executive Diane Derzis and Norman were wrongly running the clinic in downtown Birmingham despite Derzis having surrendered her abortion clinic license last year because of multiple health violations.

After that decision, Hale said, “The import of the order is Dr. Norman will have to close his clinic,” adding, “We are pleased with the court’s ruling.”

But Morro was undeterred. “Norman’s lawyer Scott Morro said this evening that the judge’s ruling doesn’t mean the doctor can’t perform abortions as long as he stays under the number limit for a license requirement and doesn’t use a referral service,” according to reporter Mike Oliver of the Birmingham News.

Morro said, “Dr. Norman’s plan is to start back as a women’s center providing the service of abortion, but not advertising, not taking referrals and not holding himself out as abortion provider — abiding by the law.”

After receiving complaints about the clinic, the state health department sued on March 26, 2013, the second time in a year the state had moved to shut the New Woman All Women care facility down.

“Last year Derzis surrendered a license to perform abortions at the clinic in a consent decree after revocation hearings began,” according to Oliver. “The revocation hearings followed an investigation into problems which included two cases where patients were given an overdose of a drug and had to go to the hospital.” That investigation—a 76-page report from the health department—found a myriad of problems.

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