Florida Shutters Dangerous Clinic, When Will Alabama Do the Same?

Last Friday, Florida officials issued an emergency order and immediately suspended the license for American Family Planning, an abortion clinic in Pensacola. The order came after a survey done earlier in the week which revealed at least two women who recently suffered botched abortions and required emergency care and hospitalization. 

According to the report, one woman required a full hysterectomy and ten units of blood to save her life after emergency transport to the hospital. The other, after strangely being instructed by the clinic to go to a hospital further away (in Mobile) as opposed to the hospital in Pensacola, required resuscitation and a mass transfusion by the time she received emergency care.

Both are fortunate to be alive, and CEC For Life applauds Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration for taking swift and appropriate action to protect citizens from the danger clearly imposed on women by this clinic. 

We wish we could applaud our own state health agency, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), for taking such principled action against dangerous abortion clinics. 

Alabama actually has some of the strongest abortion regulations in the country — stronger than Florida — and is often described as leader in pro-life efforts. In 2019, we passed the strongest ban on abortion in the nation. 

However, we have also had the same five abortion clinics operating in our state for years, and though their infractions have been far more egregious than what can be read in the emergency order from Florida, they remain open without out any intervention from the state.

Take West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, for example, the highest performing abortion clinic in Alabama. 

In May 2020, a woman by the name of April Lowery died from a perforated uterus just hours after leaving WAWC. We know it was a perforated uterus because CEC For Life obtained a copy of the autopsy. The clinic repeatedly claimed she died of a self-inflicted drug overdose and ADPH eventually echoed that story, even when presented with the autopsy. 

In reality, the left side of Lowery’s cervix and the lower left uterine segment were perforated. The Medical Examiner used the term “macerated.” Despite continued public outcry, APDH allowed the clinic to continue without a single repercussion. A woman died, and the agency meant to protect citizens did nothing. 

In December 2021, a lawsuit was filed against WAWC. This time from a woman using the pseudonym “Jane Stone” who had undergone a botched abortion just one year earlier — seven months after April Lowery. The lawsuit detailed a horrific scene of Jane Stone bleeding nearly to death in WAWC’s recovery room amidst her own pleas for an ambulance. According to the complaint, the staff only called 911 when they could no longer find a pulse. Stone required an emergency hysterectomy to save her life. 

Again, citizens asked ADPH to utilize the regulations set in place by the state and suspend this clinic’s license. Again, ADPH chose to do nothing. The clinic remains open and allowed to operate without any restrictions. In fact, in between April Lowery’s death and Jane Stone nearly dying, WAWC abortionist Leah Torres was even suspended for fraud by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, and ADPH still saw no reason to shutter this clinic.  

This is not an isolated incident. Alabama abortion clinics have a long list of infractions, ranging from an illegal clinic in Selma that ADPH refused to shut down to rampant cover for sexual predators. As recently as 2018, Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery performed two abortions on a 13-year-old girl (who initially lied about her age) and never once reported it to the authorities, which law requires. Again, when discovered ADPH took no significant action.

CEC For Life personally knows and works with legislators who write strong pro-life legislation in our state and then work tirelessly to get it passed. Their work is commendable, and they are keeping their promise to end abortion in our state. Passing solid pro-life legislation is not the biggest obstacle we face. 

It’s the enforcement that should come after. What happens after these strong regulations are passed? The answer is very little. State officials may be willing to sign pro-life legislation, but they are not working to enforce it.

In the last five years, CEC For Life has teamed up with local pro-life groups, national pro-life groups, and incredible attorneys to expose the lawlessness of Alabama abortion clinics. We have filed dozens of complaints with ADPH and the Board of Medical Examiners. Each time, ADPH comes back to tell us the clinic was found to be in compliance — even when staff let April Lowery stumble out of their clinic with a perforated uterus.

Alongside all of these complaints, we have also written numerous letters to the offices of the Attorney General, the Lt. Governor and the Governor. We have even met with some of these officials. Each time, we have asked them to hold ADPH accountable and force them to do their job. We have begged, pleaded, and even gathered all the evidence anyone would need to legally close down an Alabama abortion clinic. 

It is to no avail. No one seems willing to find a way to challenge the ADPH and because of that lack in leadership, dangerous abortion clinics remain open and unscathed. Perhaps a better word would be protected.

Alabamians will head to the polls tomorrow, and there are many candidates before them. We encourage you to vote for pro-life candidates, but not just the ones who say they are pro-life and do the bare minimum to prove it. Vote for the candidates who might enforce our pro-life laws, who will make protecting children in the womb and the mothers who carry them a priority, not a platform.  

If Roe is overturned in the coming weeks, it won’t help us one bit unless our elected officials are willing to stand up to abortion clinics, to challenge the ADPH to finally do its job, and to take action when they have the evidence. 

West Alabama Women’s Center and its Operations Director, Robin Marty, have already publicly stated they will remain open even if abortion becomes illegal. If they aren’t following the rules right now, what makes anyone think they will follow them then? And we have definitely not seen anything in the last few years from Alabama’s state agencies or current state officials to assure us they will stop this clinic from violating a ban on abortion.  

Laws are only as effective as the ability to enforce them, and Alabama is currently failing at enforcement on a grand scale. Perhaps our incumbents will not be the best choice on the ballot tomorrow. Perhaps we should take some time to carefully assess other pro-life candidates before we cast our vote. Alabama needs strong leaders if we ever hope to enact and enforce strong laws.