The case involving a social service organization that allegedly helped a Virginia-based abortion facility pressure a 15-year-old girl to abort her pregnancy is a solemn reminder of why there must be accountability in the abortion industry to prevent the victimization of women.
According to a lawsuit filed by the teenager’s parents, the Dickenson County Department of Social Services (DSS) arranged for the minor to have an abortion at the Bristol Women’s Health abortion clinic when she was three months pregnant. The minor had been removed from her father’s custody on Jan. 19, and the abortion appointment was made on the same day.
The suit seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and $5.4 million in punitive damages. According to the filing, the abortion facility and DSS pressuring the teenager to end her pregnancy caused her to experience physical and emotional side effects and interfered with the rights of the girl’s parents.
The minor, identified as “CRFM,” had been placed in the custody of a family friend during her pregnancy. The teenager allegedly “intended to take her child to full term and intended to deliver her baby at the appropriate time.”
CRFM, according to the suit, told her mother that DSS was pressuring her to have an abortion, and she “promised her mother that she was not going to abort the baby.”
After a DSS employee arranged an appointment, the pair met with the clinic’s director. The suit alleges that CRFM “remained upset throughout the process and initially refused to cooperate with any abortion” but was eventually persuaded otherwise. In addition, the complaint alleges that legal consent was never obtained during this process.
A provider at the Bristol Women’s Health clinic gave CRFM chemical abortion pills. The teenager completed the abortion after she took the second pill within 48 hours of her appointment.
Tim McAfee, an attorney representing the family, called the incident “shocking.”
“Some people would say you killed something,” McAfee said. “The young lady has killed her baby. That’s how she looks at it.”
Diane Derzis, who owns Bristol Women’s Health, denied that her facility had ever pressured any woman into an abortion and that it’s a woman’s choice, regardless of her age.
“I am confident that all the paperwork was done according to state law,” she said.
Derzis’s clinic is facing another lawsuit from the landlord who owns the property where the Virginia-based Bristol Women’s Health facility operates. Property owner Kilo Delta filed a lawsuit against the clinic in December, claiming that she did not know it would be used to conduct abortions. Accusing the facility of fraud and misrepresentation, the landlord is seeking a rescission that would rescind her leasing agreement with the facility.
If Derzis’s name sounds at all familiar, it’s because she was the owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the “Pink House” abortion facility at the center of the Supreme Court case that led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. In July, the abortion clinic closed its doors permanently after a judge rejected the facility’s appeal to prevent a trigger law outlawing most abortions in the state from taking effect.
Another facility previously owned by Derzis, the New Woman All Women Health clinic in Alabama, operated under what appears to be non-existent healthcare standards, if this 76-page deficiency report is anything to go by. In one noteworthy incident on January 21, 2021, the facility sent two women to the hospital on the same day. One of the women had to be carried through a narrow hallway by attendants because it was too small for a gurney to fit.
Reprotection will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and ensure that questions surrounding the apparent exploitation of a 15-year-old girl do not remain unanswered.