Pro-life watchdog group's investigation shutters Florida abortion facility

A woman walks past a building highlight the word 'abortion' in 'The Matter of Life' documentary trailer posted on YouTube on March 21, 2022.
A woman walks past a building highlight the word "abortion" in "The Matter of Life" documentary trailer posted on YouTube on March 21, 2022. | YouTube/ The Matter of Life

A national pro-life watchdog group's investigation has led to the closure of a Florida abortion facility that failed to abide by standard emergency medical protocols, with reports surfacing of patients experiencing extensive bleeding and other severe complications.

Reprotection, the pro-life group responsible for spearheading the investigation that led to the suspension, began the process of attempting to shut the facility down two years ago. On May 20, Florida's Agency of Health Care Administration issued an order to suspend the license of the American Family Planning abortion facility in Pensacola. 

The document describes multiple cases where the clinic failed to comply with the law and put patients' safety at risk.

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Earlier this month, a patient experienced an incomplete second-trimester abortion due to a possible uterine rupture and cervical lacerations, according to the order. There is no record of the facility monitoring the woman's condition or vital signs before or after the procedure, as required by law. Additionally, the document states that she experienced a blood loss of between 250 and 750 milliliters, with the exact amount unclear due to a "seven (7) and two (2) digit being written over one another" on the record. 

The woman reportedly sat in the car with her husband after the abortion. Clinic staff later instructed the husband to drive his wife to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, instead of a closer one. By the time the woman received care from a hospital, she had "undetectable blood pressure" and "required resuscitation and mass transfusion." 

In March, another woman undergoing a second-trimester abortion began bleeding, but there is also no record of the facility monitoring her vitals. She had no pulse by the time she was transferred to the emergency room and was later forced to undergo a hysterectomy. 

Last year, a woman who had an abortion later "required repair of uterine perforation, a colon resection, a colostomy, a sigmoidectomy, and a cystoscopy." The clinic did not report the complication or any of the others to the agency, as required by law. 

"The lack of regulations and the lack of willingness to enforce basic medical standards on abortion facilities creates a hotbed for seedy abortionists," Reprotection CEO Missy Martinez-Stone told The Christian Post.

"The abortion industry touts itself as 'We are for women's health; we're for women's choice,'" she continued. "Yet we go into these facilities, and we find out how these abortion facilities are harming women and exploiting women." 

Reprotection launched its investigation into American Family Planning after Emerald Coast Coalition for Life informed them two years ago that the facility lied about having a transfer agreement with the nearby Baptist Health Hospital. Martinez-Stone told CP that the American Family Planning clinic also lied about having a transfer agreement with another hospital in West Florida.

Florida law requires abortion facilities to have a written transfer agreement with a nearby hospital if an abortionist does not have admitting privileges. The agreement outlines the circumstances under which a clinic should conduct an emergency transfer of a patient to the hospital with medical records related to the pregnancy termination. 

The coalition had heard about the facility's violations from its volunteers outside the clinic and communication with pregnancy resource centers. They contacted Reprotection with the information due to the group's history of investigating and shutting down dangerous abortion facilities.

Reprotection's CEO said the process for shuttering abortion facilities like American Family Planning typically consists of following state protocols that are already in place. The group contacts the agency responsible for dealing with the clinic's violations and makes a report or files a complaint. 

In the case of this particular Florida abortion facility, Martinez-Stone said that Reprotection contacted the AHCA. 

"And they were hesitant; they did not want to get involved," the pro-life CEO said. "It was really difficult to get them to move, even when we had firsthand documentation of fraudulent transfer agreements. They just didn't want to touch it because it's abortion." 

The watchdog group took the issue up the ladder and went above people's heads, moving higher and higher through the chains of command until they got the attention of state officials, who then put pressure on the agency to act. 

Martinez-Stone's group is currently conducting around 50 investigations in some 30 states of abortion facilities reportedly violating the law and endangering women. The pro-life leader contends that this is a "national issue." 

"Every time I go into a new pro-life community and I talk to the people serving abortion-minded patients — the ones counseling, the ones in pregnancy centers — they can immediately tell me all the ways the abortion facility is harming women," she said.

"This is absolutely not safe. There's nothing about this that is empowering to these women. It is taking advantage of women in vulnerable situations for money." 

Florida is not the only state with reported cases of abortion facilities allegedly breaking the law and operating relatively unchecked for years.

One egregious example is Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell who, in 2013, was found responsible for the deaths of one woman and multiple infants born alive at his unsanitary abortion clinic. The Pennsylvania Department of State and the Pennsylvania Department of Health failed to inspect the abortion clinic for more than 17 years, allowing Gosnell to conduct his operations without scrutiny.

A grand jury report detailed what investigators discovered during a Feb. 18, 2010, drug raid on the clinic. Blood-stained floors and furniture, haphazardly stored fetal remains, and dirty equipment are just some of the things investigators uncovered during the raid that exposed Gosnell's crimes.

The report also revealed that Gosnell profited $10,000 to $15,000 a day at his late-term abortion clinic and made additional money as "one of the top Oxycontin providers in the state."

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