Trial Underway to Decide Whether Alabama Abortionists Must Obtain Hospital Privileges

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Planned Parenthood Southeast (PPSE) et al vs. Governor Bentley et al, the federal bench trial that will decide whether or not Alabama can require abortionists to obtain hospital privileges, is well underway in Montgomery, Alabama.

The court began hearing testimony from PPSE’s witnesses on Monday, including two abortion clinic owners, the CEO of PPSE, three Alabama hospital administrators, and two supposed experts, one in sociology and one in medical sociology.  Today, the court will hear from at least one more doctor before the state of Alabama begins calling its own witnesses.

CEC For Life was present for all court proceedings Monday and Tuesday, and will be back in Montgomery on Thursday.

Sarah Howell, Executive Assistant for CEC For Life, comments, “The information being disseminated during this trial is overwhelming.  We have heard clinic owners testifying about the inner workings of their clinics, their uncensored attitudes toward pro-lifers, and, of course, the whole array of ‘war on women’ rhetoric that Planned Parenthood unceasingly presents to anyone who will stop and listen.”

Howell also points out that, though this trial is meant to decide whether or not the state can require abortionists to obtain admitting privileges for the sake of patient safety and continuity of care, PPSE has aggressively avoided these topics and pushed forward an argument that essentially blames any and all new regulations on the “stigma” that accompanies abortion.  Even more concerning, PPSE claims that this “stigma” arises, not from the verifiable history of abortionists repeatedly breaking the law and harming patients, but from the work of “anti-abortion protestors.”

On both Monday and Tuesday, PPSE presented “experts” to fortify this argument.  Tuesday’s expert, Dr. Lori Freedman, made the more incredulous argument of the two.  While explaining the concept of “abortion stigma,” Freedman explained that before legalization, abortion was “perceived” as extremely negative – as it was an illegal act – and the doctors performing it “perceived” as criminals. (Never mind that they actually were breaking the law….)

Dr. Freedman then continued to explain that “people who want to provide abortion after legalization not only have to deal with that legacy, but it was amplified by the anti-abortion movement.”  In regards to Alabama, Freedman said, “With all of the protestor activity, [abortion] is even more visible, so you’re not able to take the focus off the stigma.”

During cross-examination, Dr. Freedman was asked whether or not she thought an abortionist being indicted for Medicaid fraud, or abortion workers illegally selling stolen abortion pills in the parking lot of the clinic (both of which happened in Alabama), might also add to the “stigma.”  Dr. Freedman responded with pointed sarcasm, mentioning something about negative media and arguing that neither instance demonstrated a problem with patient care.

It is also important to note that testimony from clinic owners, hospital administrators, and the CEO of PPSE, Staci Fox, revealed that not one abortionist in Alabama has actually attempted to file a request for hospital privileges – yet PPSE insists on claiming that their abortionists are unable to obtain them.

CEC For Life will be back in the court room tomorrow to listen in on testimony from the state’s witnesses.

Fr. Terry Gensemer, Director of CEC For Life, comments, “Hopefully the state will do a compelling job of bringing out just how many instances, even in just the past four years, abortionists operating in Alabama have flagrantly broken the law – including attempting to operate an illegal clinic in Birmingham in 2013. Requiring an abortionist to obtain admitting privileges in Alabama is vital not only in creating continuity in care for the patient, but also in establishing some much needed accountability by ensuring that any doctor practicing in this state has an honorable relationship with the local medical community.”