Abortion Facilities: Far From "Safe and Rare"

The state of Georgia has some 18 known abortion facilities.  Only a few of the 18 known abortion facilities are licensed by the state.  Criterion for such licensure is somewhat vague.  Just what regulations, rules, policies and/or procedures apply to these facilities also remains vague.

Sadly, ignorance of abortion regulations, or lack thereof, is increasingly putting women at risk.  Too often, women are subjected to legal, but substandard, surgical procedures in abortion “clinics” that have very few, if any, regulations for sanitation and safety - and even simple basic equipment, such as elevators.

And even if these regulations are in place, who or whom is enforcing them?    

Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, AWMC, located at 235 W. Wieuca Road in Northeast Atlanta, is a two story facility with stairs only.  Per the AWMC website, ”Our facility is equipped with the best in modern medical equipment, and is staffed by a team of medical professionals who specialize in providing abortion services. ….the care we provide is necessary to sustain a world that values women, and all of us.”

A brief look at some of AWMC’s history reveals that ‘best in modern medical equipment’ and care that ‘values women’ may not be the ‘norm’…

In 1994, the Atlanta Women’s Medical Center was informed that plans for its two-story late-term abortion facility needed to include an elevator.  According to the Georgia Department of Community Health State Licensure for Ambulatory Surgical Centers:  “Ambulatory surgical services provided in multistory buildings shall be accessible by an elevator of adequate size to accommodate date a standard wheeled litter patient and two attendants.”

The facility’s owner, HUMEDCO Corporation, which runs a chain of abortion facilities, requested an initial waiver claiming financial hardship.  A two year waiver was granted due to “substantial hardship” on the part of the abortion mill.

The original waiver was subsequently renewed through 2005, renewed yet again for a 7- year term and expired recently on August 31, 2012.  Interestingly enough, AWMC has reported earnings in excess of three million dollars each year since 2008.

From the beginning, the waiver clearly stated that AWMC had to notify prospective patients and 911 operators (in the event of any emergency) of the absence of an elevator, and provide a medical escort for recovering patients as they exited the building.

Multiple violations of these waiver requirements have been substantiated over time and have uncovered other violations, as well.  Repeatedly, however, the Georgia Department of Community Health refused to revoke the waiver and merely cited them with needing to adhere to requirements more closely.

Recent communication with Governor Deal’s office, Georgia Department of Community Health, and others has revealed little about the status of AWMC’s recently expired waiver.  The question remains:  How much longer will Georgia women be at risk due to at best, ignorance of patient care standards and at worst, a blatant disregard for the women they serve?

Catherine Davis, of The Radiance Foundation and Too Many Aborted, blogs about Georgia abortion facilities in Let's Talk About It.  Ms. Davis says, “From the very beginning Atlanta Women's Medical Center chose to ignore the requirement for two story ambulatory surgical centers by refusing to install an elevator as the regulations required….Atlanta Women's Medical Center, has placed the health of Georgia women beneath their own ‘values and beliefs’….”

Other areas report questionable practices as well.

On July 20, 2012, 24-year old Tonya Reaves, entered a Chicago Planned Parenthood.  She was a healthy, vibrant young woman, who just happened to be 16 weeks pregnant.  Twelve hours later, she was dead.

The autopsy revealed that she died from three major complications of a “botched second-trimester abortion”.  John Jansen of the Pro-Life Action League remarked, “Planned Parenthood’s unfathomable negligence in the death of Tonya Reaves raises numerous questions that demand answers.”

Jansen further said, “…Planned Parenthood abortion facilities in Illinois are unlicensed and not subject to state inspection.  As a result, there is a lot we don’t know about Illinois’ Planned Parenthood facilities.”

Chicago’s Planned Parenthood is not an isolated incident.  Earlier this year in Alabama, New Women All Women, NWAW, was cited for multiple violations, including that staff was “not properly trained to provide safe, quality patient care.”  Medication errors alone had resulted in the hospitalization of three abortion patients in just one day in January 2012.

Government regulations are common in any facility that serves the public.  Reducing medical error is a key role of accreditation processes nationally and an important component in the maintenance of patient safety.

Hospital accreditation is about standard-setting, quality assurance, and medical ethics and a source of ‘bragging rights’ for the hospital.  It follows, then, that a similar process might apply to Georgia’s abortion facilities.

Going forward, the citizens of Georgia have the right to expect that rules and regulations for any facility serving the public be enforced.  And, new laws and accreditation processes may need to be generated to give government agencies the "teeth" they need to hold these facilities accountable.

Georgia Right to Life vows to make help ensure that the Governor's office and appropriate state agencies are aware of these issues. Won't you help us?

Together, we can make a difference!


Suzanne L. Ward
Education/Public Relations