Another woman maimed and nearly killed at West Alabama Women’s Center — How will ADPH respond?

In light of the unnerving details found within a recently filed lawsuit against West Alabama Women’s Center (WAWC) in Tuscaloosa, CEC For Life is calling for the Alabama Department of Public Health to take immediate action and finally protect the lives of Alabama citizens from this dangerous clinic.

Jane Stone, a pseudonym for the woman filing the suit, came to WAWC seeking a second trimester abortion in December of 2020. She had an initial evaluation appointment on December 22 and arrived for the abortion several days later.

According to the complaint, Stone asked during the initial evaluation if “any patients had ever died or suffered life-threatening complications from the procedure.” She was told by a nurse that one patient had died, but the death was “the result of drug use and not related to the procedure or complications of the procedure.”

The patient to which this nurse was likely referring was April Lowery, a young woman who died in May 2020 just hours after leaving WAWC.  At the time, CEC or Life, Operation Rescue, Pro-Life Tuscaloosa and other Alabama citizens called for an investigation from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (ABME).

Though an investigation was opened, both entities did very little in response at the time, and neither would confirm whether or not Lowery died of injuries from an abortion. WAWC continued to push the story that Lowery died of a drug overdose, at least to individual citizens. It was not until months later, when CEC For Life finally obtained a copy of the autopsy, that the pro-life community confirmed April Lowery died of a perforated uterus, not a drug overdose. 

Following the investigation, Dr. Louis Payne — long-time abortionist and the doctor on site the day of Lowery’s abortion — suddenly surrendered his license accompanied with a promise to never seek reinstatement. It was never stated whether or not this move by Payne was to avoid further consequence from the Medical Board, but the timing and agreement to never pursue another license seemed obvious enough. 

Despite Lowery’s tragic death and Payne’s sudden surrender, the Alabama Department of Health allowed WAWC to continue with business as usual; The Board of Medical Examiners also closed their investigation and neither entity took any further action on the Lowery case.

It should be noted that during the time of Lowery’s death, the clinic had come under a new owner and, later, a new medical director. New management should have caused ADPH to be even more cautious, not more careless. 

In the months that followed, WAWC also found itself embroiled in scandal once more as the license of the new medical director, infamous abortionist Leah Torres, was suspended for fraud and unprofessional conduct. Again, ADPH took no significant action.

Then, a little over seven months after April Lowery’s death (and during Torres’ suspension), Jane Stone walked into WAWC, where she was not told the truth about Lowery’s procedure and, in a matter of hours, nearly succumbed to the very same fate — bleeding to death from lacerations in her uterus. 

The complaint in Stone’s lawsuit reads like a horror story and should make ADPH immediately reconsider their lack of action on behalf of citizens. Nothing about the recent history of WAWC is reassuring or deserving of a license to hold itself out as a legitimate medical clinic. 

Besides being lied to about Lowery’s death, the lawsuit alleges that Dr. Tamer Yvette Middleton — a Georgia abortionist at the clinic that day — failed to properly dilate Stone’s cervix but proceeded with the abortion anyway.

The lawsuit notes that Middleton performed the abortion “without the use of ultrasound guidance and without adequate cervical preparation.” By the time the procedure was over, Middleton had “lacerated the right side of Jane Stone’s cervix, perforated the lower right uterine segment, and sheared multiple uterine blood vessels.”

As Stone started hemorrhaging — a very likely sign that her uterus had been lacerated — instead of calling an ambulance, the complaint alleges that Middleton attempted to control the bleeding with medication and eventually had staff carry Stone to a recovery room. The complaint states that Stone “was not wearing any pants, could not walk on her own, was bleeding internally, and was complaining of severe pain.”

The complaint goes on to say Stone was left in a recliner while still bleeding internally, even losing consciousness at times, and pleading for an ambulance. Stone alleges that her pleas were met with staff dismissing her and telling her she was “just being anxious and needed to calm down.” During this harrowing time in the recovery room, the lawsuit notes that Middleton did not come once and evaluate her, nor did any other physician.

According to the complaint, by the time an ambulance was even called the staff was having difficulty finding a pulse, and, once in route, the ambulance called the hospital to alert them that their incoming patient’s blood pressure could not be obtained.

In short, Stone’s account describes a staff and supposed “doctor” that let her sit in a recliner and nearly bleed to death, chastising her for pleading for an ambulance. By the time Stone received the medical help she needed, the only way to save her life was an emergency hysterectomy. 

The lawsuit requested a jury trial, but whether it goes to court or is settled outside of it, the Alabama Department of Public Health cannot continue to look the other way while this so-called “clinic” butchers and kills Alabama citizens. The facts of this complaint are unconscionable and ADPH should act immediately to hold this clinic accountable for any wrongdoing — more specifically, ADPH should suspend and revoke this clinic’s license.

recent article by Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue points out how similar Stone and Lowery’s injuries were. Both women had D&E abortions, both sustained similar lacerations and damage to their uterus, and both endured serious internal bleeding. But these injuries were at the hands of different abortionists, which is important, because it shows a possible systemic problem in how the clinic is being run as opposed to an isolated incident. 

Sullenger writes, “The fact that two different abortionists inflicted similar abortion injuries on the two women begs the question of whether the corners-cutting D&E procedures were not just random accidents but were the result of off-the-books shortcuts used by WAWC abortionists who were under pressure from understaffing and the practice of overbooking appointments.”

Stone’s complaint notes that the WAWC nurse actually stated on the day of her abortion that the clinic was “overbooked and understaffed.” In fact, Middleton herself seems to have rushed the abortion, administering Cytotec (a drug to soften the cervix) just one hour before the procedure when, as the lawsuit notes, the protocol is three hours. Here we find another reason that ADPH should be quick to act in reassessing the licensure of this clinic. Cutting corners in a medical clinic during surgical procedures is absolutely reprehensible and should not be tolerated by the entity whose purpose and duty is to ensure medical clinics are safe for citizens. 

Jane Stone likely only lived through this ordeal because she was able to get emergency medical attention in time, and just barely in time, due to hours of delay from unfeeling staff and a reckless abortionist. April Lowery was not so lucky. WAWC never called an ambulance for her and, in fact, let her leave the clinic while hemorrhaging.

Fr. Terry Gensemer, Director of CEC For Life, states, “The question we have today is this: exactly how many women does WAWC have to maim or kill before the Alabama Department of Public Health recognizes and acknowledges the danger this clinic poses to Alabama citizens? How many Jane Stones or April Lowerys will it take to spur them into action?

“In light of this new lawsuit and the details contained therein, ADPH has the ability, the authority, and the obligation to hold this clinic accountable. Will they?”

CEC For Life will be submitting a complaint to the ADPH and following up with the same tenacity and persistence it has always shown when exposing dangerous and substandard abortion facilities attempting to operate in Alabama.