On Saturday, August 15, at 9:00 AM, pro-life leaders, pastors, and Senator Gerald Allen will hold a press conference directly outside of the West Alabama Women’s Center (WAWC) located at 535 Jack Warner Parkway. The coalition is calling for an immediate investigation of the clinic. A city-wide prayer vigil at 10:00 AM in Snow Hinton Park will follow.
Speakers for the press conference will include:
- Senator Gerald Allen, Alabama Senate
- Ellen Hermann RN, Pro-Life Tuscaloosa
- Ashley Wright, Students for Life of America
- Sarah Howell, CEC For Life
WAWC recently made news when Yellowhammer Fund President, Amanda Reyes, purchased the clinic from long-time owner Gloria Gray. On May 7, possibly in the same week Reyes took over, citizens witnessed a woman leaving the clinic; she was extremely pale and barely able to walk. Later, clinic employees confirmed the woman died shortly after.
No record of a 911 call from the clinic was found, despite a patient in clear distress. Questioning the clinic’s role in this woman’s death, citizens immediately filed a complaint with the Board of Medical Examiners (BME) against Dr. Louis Payne, the only doctor on site that day, and another complaint to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), asking both entities to investigate the incident immediately. According to documents available on the ADPH website, WAWC has not been inspected since January 2019, despite changing owners and, now, a woman dying just after leaving the clinic.
National pro-life organizations have also joined the call for an investigation, including Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF), Operation Rescue, and Students for Life of America (SFLA).
Sarah Neely of CEC For Life, one of the main organizers for the upcoming events, says, “In response to our complaint, ADPH not only refused to investigate this incident, it also claims that new owner Reyes does not require a new license, despite Alabama code stating a ‘change in facility ownership’ requires a new license.”
Neely reports that the BME, on the other hand, did begin an investigation, the results of which are still pending. However, that investigation will only affect Dr. Louis Payne, who announced his retirement shortly after the incident. ADPH is the only entity that can investigate whether the clinic followed proper protocols in this woman’s tragic death.
Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Vice President of Operation Rescue comments, “Part of the responsibility for this tragedy lies at the doorstep of the ADPH. If they had enforced their own licensing laws, this woman might still be alive.”
Attorney Allison Aranda of LLDF also states, “ADPH’s refusal to do its legal and ethical duty to inspect Alabama’s abortion clinics is putting women’s lives at risk. How many more women must die before ADPH will hold these facilities accountable? Life Legal will not relent in its pursuit of justice and to call on the ADPH to do its job. We will continue to work with CEC For Life, as we have in the past, to shut down these dangerous death traps.”
More concerns have also been raised over Dr. Payne’s replacement, Dr. Leah Torres. By her own admission in national news stories, Torres was fired from a previous job in Utah over concerns regarding her reputation.
Fr. Terry Gensemer, director of CEC For Life, comments, “ADPH’s refusal to investigate this clinic is unconscionable. To our knowledge, this clinic has not been inspected in over a year; it has also recently changed ownership, hired a doctor with a questionable reputation, and a patient seen leaving their clinic died shortly after. According to its own regulations, and just plain decency and respect for a woman’s life, an inspection is the very least ADPH could do.”
Ellen Hermann, a registered nurse who often stands outside of WAWC to offer women life-affirming alternatives, will also speak at the press conference. She reports, “One or two women per month are rushed from here to DCH Regional Medical, usually in passenger cars driven by employees of the clinic. Imagine just being dropped off at the curb in an unstable condition, possibly hemorrhaging or groggy from medication — how can the ADPH pretend that kind of care deserves a license?”
Ashley Wright, a representative for the Alabama chapters of Students for Life of America, voices concern for local college students. She comments, “The abortion industry targets millennials with an astounding 46 percent of abortions committed on college age women. SFLA, including the group at University of Alabama, works to make the safety of women a priority and to ensure that women can have their baby and get their education. SFLA is calling for a full investigation of West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, following the tragic loss of life reported.”