September 14, 2012 — An abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., will remain closed after a state hearing officer denied a new operator's appeal to reopen the facility, CNN reports.
State regulators in April ordered the closure of the New Woman All Women Health Care facility, citing "multiple and serious violations of State Board of Health rules." Diane Derzis, the clinic's owner, agreed to surrender the clinic's license and closed the facility on May 18. Derzis owns three other facilities, including the sole abortion clinic in Mississippi, which has been targeted by that state for closure (Sutton, CNN, 9/13).
The Alabama Department of Public Health allowed Derzis to lease the Birmingham facility to a new operator, Kelley Rain-Water, with the stipulation that Rain-Water would run the facility independently of Derzis. However, the department denied Rain-Water's application for a license on the grounds that Derzis and her company would play an active role by profiting from the arrangement.
Rain-Water appealed to state hearing officer Dorothy Norwood, who agreed with the department. Rain-Water pledged to renegotiate the terms of the lease and submit another application. "I am very optimistic," she said, adding, "I cannot see a reason I would be denied if we have an acceptable lease" (Rawls, AP/Montgomery Advertiser, 9/12).
Brian Hale, deputy general counsel for the health department, said the state hearing officer's opinion is a recommendation to the state health officer and is not a final decision, which will likely be issued this month (CNN, 9/13).