HIPAA Violations and Another Dangerous Abortionist — When Will State Officials Finally Shut Down West Alabama Women’s Center?

Yet another alarming discovery was made last week regarding the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa — the highest performing abortion clinic in Alabama. 

Recently, Fr. Terry Gensemer and his wife Patti came home to find large black garbage bags left anonymously in their driveway.

When opened, their hearts broke. They found surgical pads soiled in blood and fluids, tubes also containing fluids, and one tube that contained what appeared to be a small piece of human tissue. There was also paperwork which included patient names and information, ultrasound photos, and the header “West Alabama Women’s Center.” It was clear that however this medical waste and information ended up in Birmingham, it originated from the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa and had not been properly discarded. Names and dates of birth, photos of patient’s children in the womb, and unsafe bodily fluids had been left somewhere that HIPAA laws clearly do not permit.

Small tube containing what appears to be human tissue.

One paper in particular listed the name of an abortionist not previously known to be associated with WAWC — Diane Horvath, an abortionist out of Maryland. This was a significant find. WAWC has employed a string of dangerous abortionists: Dr. Louis Payne, who was forced to finally surrender his license only after a woman died; Dr. Willie Parker, who has been accused of sexual misconduct; Dr. Leah Torres, whose Alabama license was initially suspended for fraud and professional misconduct. 

Horvath fits right into the terrible mix, having been sued in 2016 for perforating a patient’s uterus during an abortion, while also destroying the patient’s right ovary, right fallopian tube, and portions of her appendix and other tissues. Horvath also failed to complete the abortion, and left the placenta and the calvarium (the baby’s head) inside the woman’s uterus, later removed by doctors administering emergency care. 

According to the website for the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (ALBME), Horvath only received an Alabama medical license in March of 2021, and only gained a controlled substance license (which she would need to perform abortions) as of January 18, 2022. The fact that Horvath has already been sued by a woman with a perforated uterus is especially alarming, as this is the injury already maiming and killing women at WAWC.

As previously reported, a lawsuit against WAWC was submitted at the end of 2021 by a woman under the pseudonym of Jane Stone. The lawsuit alleges that a botched abortion performed by Dr. Tamer Middleton, a Georgia abortionist, resulted in a lacerated cervix, perforated uterus, and other life-threatening injuries that caused Stone to hemorrhage internally. Despite desperate pleas, Stone asserts that WAWC staff members ignored her repeated request for an ambulance until she had passed out and they could no longer find her pulse. 

Stones’s abortion took place at the hands of Middleton in December of 2020, however, several months previous another woman, April Lowery, also received similar injuries, but at the hands of Dr. Louis Payne. Lowery was not as lucky as Stone, however, and having been allowed to leave the clinic with internal hemorrhaging, died just hours later. 

When April Lowery’s death came to light, CEC For Life and other pro-life groups immediately submitted complaints to the appropriate agencies, held a press conference, and organized a city-wide prayer rally in response.  Despite every attempt from citizen’s to hold this clinic accountable for a woman’s tragic death, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) not only failed to take any significant action but continued to tell citizens the death was related to drug use, even after CEC For Life obtained the official autopsy which stated the cause of death was a perforated uterus. 

When the Jane Stone lawsuit came to our attention at the end of last year, CEC For Life, along with national groups Operation Rescue and Life Legal Defense Foundation, renewed our determination to hold this clinic accountable and immediately submitted another round of complaints to the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

We have received responses from both. 

The Board of Medical Examiners notified us that a similar complaint against Middleton had already been filed — likely from Jane Stone — and a new case would not be opened.  We take this to mean a case was opened, though we do not know if it has already been resolved. However, at the time the lawsuit was filed (2021) Middleton’s license was set to expire at the end of the year. According to the ALBME website, her Alabama license has been renewed until the end of 2022. Current investigation or not, it does not seem that the Board is willing to immediately suspend or revoke Middleton’s license despite a woman being left to bleed to death while under her medical care. Again, they have also issued a new license for Diane Horvath who has been sued for an equally horrific botched abortion. This is not reassuring for Alabama citizens.

Even more concerning is the response we received from the Alabama Department of Public Health, which claims they addressed the Jane Stone incident in an inspection that took place on December 14, 2021. The ADPH claims to have reviewed patient files, perhaps for the day Stone’s abortion took place, however there is no mention of patient files in the deficiency report. We are working to get clarification on this point, but we have not seen any actions taken by the Department to hold this clinic accountable so far. 

While WAWC continues to grow more and more dangerous, the ADPH seems only to show more and more favor. The ADPH has a long (well documented) history of allowing abortion clinics to break the law with little or no consequences and has been overwhelmingly negligent in taking any kind of significant action against WAWC, especially in the last two years. 

Even the aforementioned December 2021 inspection is cause for deep concern. Though we have no idea what patient records ADPH may have seen in this inspection, what they did document was improper sterilization methods, autoclaves that had not been maintained, and rusted surgical instruments. This is not the first time ADPH has found rusted instruments in this clinic, which should indicate that WAWC has a completely substandard attitude when it comes to sanitation — one they are not correcting. Imagine if a hospital operating room was found to have rusted instruments laid out for a surgery. 

Just taking into account the obvious HIPAA violations and improper waste disposal we have just uncovered, a very recent deficiency report documenting detrimental sanitation problems, and yet another abortionist with a horrific lawsuit trailing behind her joining the clinic staff, we cannot fathom how the ADPH can continue to let this clinic hold itself out as a licensed, legitimate healthcare facility. 

In light of the newest incident — the improperly discarded waste and patient documents — CEC For Life, Life Legal Defense Foundation and Operation Rescue have also reached out to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the agency responsible for enforcing medical waste regulations.  

At the same time, we reached out to the Attorney General and Lt. Governor.  All three offices now have the evidence uncovered in those trash bags. We have requested a thorough investigation from ADEM, and strong oversight from the Attorney General and Lt. Governor, ensuring that these infractions are taken seriously and WAWC is held accountable for all wrongdoing.

Perhaps these state officials will use their authority to investigate why ADPH has refused over and over again to use its own authority and finally recognize the danger WAWC clearly poses. We are awaiting responses from the AG, Lt. Governor and ADEM. 

Meanwhile, the body of evidence against this clinic is growing, and tragically, so is the trail of bodies left in their wake. Women killed, injured, left infertile, and all completely preventable if the ADPH and Board of Medical Examiners would simply do the job this state requires of them.

Protect your citizens, not the abortion industry. That is our message to these agencies. 

CEC For Life will continue to call on each of these agencies and state departments to shut down WAWC immediately, not only for the safety of every citizen but to gain justice for the women who have already been harmed and dignity for the preborn children lost each day.

No matter what you believe about abortion, no medical clinic should be allowed to flout regulations and recklessly harm patients with no legal consequences. How many Jane Stones or April Lowerys will it take for Alabama officials to shut this dangerous facility down?