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Fla. judge recommends state drop complaint against abortion clinic

A Florida administrative law judge on Thursday ruled that Bread and Roses Women's Health Center had not provided abortion care outside the scope of its license, the News Service of Florida/Gainesville Sun reports.

According to the News Service of Florida/Sun, the administrative judge's ruling serves as a recommendation that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) drop a complaint alleging the clinic violated its license (Menzel, News Service of Florida/Gainesville Sun, 4/28).


In July 2015, Gov. Rick Scott (R) called for an investigation into abortion clinics in the state following the release of misleading videos by the antiabortion-rights group the Center for Medical Progress.

During the investigation, AHCA found no fetal tissue law violations. However, AHCA claimed that Bread and Roses Women's Health Center, Aastra Women's Center and three Planned Parenthood clinics provided abortion care during the second trimester of pregnancy even though they were licensed only to provide abortion care in the first trimester.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the alleged violations were the result of AHCA having inconsistently applied its definition for gestational periods and that centers were in compliance with Florida law.

AHCA during the investigation used a rule that defines the second trimester as the "portion of a pregnancy following the 12th week and extending through the 24th week of gestation." However, Planned Parenthood said AHCA ignored an agency rule that defines the first trimester as "extending through the completion of 14 weeks of pregnancy as measured from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period [LMP]."

In September 2015, AHCA issued a $2,500 fine to Bread and Roses Women's Health Center and a $3,000 fine to Aastra Women's Center. In March, the agency dropped its complaints against three Planned Parenthood clinics involved in the investigation. Last month, Aastra Women's Center reached a settlement agreement with state officials (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/19).

Bread and Roses disputes allegations

In its claims alleging that Bread and Roses illegally provided abortion care during the second trimester, AHCA cited supporting documentation for five abortions provided at the clinic that did not state the dates of the women's last normal menstrual periods. AHCA contended Bread and Roses should be fined $500 for each case, for a total of $2,500.

Kristin Davy, owner and director of Bread and Roses, disputed the allegations. She said ultrasound information included in the patient files showed the time of gestation, which Davy said was standard practice.

Davy added that Bread and Roses had been using the same practice to submit reports to AHCA for a decade, throughout which time the clinic has operated under the same license restrictions on abortion care.

Ruling details

In his ruling, Judge Lawrence Stevenson rejected AHCA's claim that Bread and Roses had provided abortion care in violation of its license. Stevenson wrote, "AHCA presented no testimony or documentary evidence refuting the credible evidence presented by Bread & Roses that the sonograms show on their face that the pregnancies for each of the five procedures at issue were first trimester pregnancies and within the scope of Bread & Roses' license."

Further, Stevenson stated that AHCA showed no evidence to dispute Davy's testimony that the facility had consistently submitted its monthly reports for the past 10 years or to explain why the agency "suddenly believed that Bread & Roses' (monthly summary) reports showed that the clinic was performing second-trimester abortions."

In addition, Stevenson noted that although Kriste Mennella, the AHCA field manager who reviewed Bread and Roses' files, had documented Davy's explanation about Bread & Roses' services in her notes, she had not included that information in the letter AHCA sent Bread and Roses alleging the clinic had violated its license. Stevenson wrote, "Ms. Mennella herself could not say why AHCA decided to file an administrative complaint alleging that Bread & Roses performed five second-trimester abortions, or why her documentation of her conversations with the office manager and Ms. Davy were excised from the final version of her survey report."

An AHCA spokesperson on Thursday said the agency was reviewing Stevenson's ruling (News Service of Florida/Gainesville Sun, 4/28).