‘Rush, rush, rush!’ — The rise, fall of Chattanooga abortion clinic (1)

REVIVAL & REWARD A dozer smashes the former Chattanooga Women’s Clinic in Chattanooga Aug. 29, 1993, to convert it into a memorial to the unborn.

God’s People Persevere in Christian Combat; Death Mill Shut Down after 18 years of Prayer, Protest

30,000+ Babies’ Deaths, Botched Abortions, Endless Lawsuits Marked Clinic as God’s Judgment on Chattanooga Families, Churches & Civil Government, 1975 to 1993

Nearly half of the people who crossed the threshold of Chattanooga Women’s Clinic Inc. did not emerge. The remains of these people — nearly 35,000 — either were thrown out in the trash, incinerated or sent to labs

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➤ Chattanooga Women’s Clinic Inc., for nearly 2 decades the main cash-up-front assembly-line abortion provider in Southeast Tennessee, was neither Chattanoogan in a strict sense, nor women’s.

 Chattanooga? True, it was located on a city back street linking the city’s Lee Highway & an airport connector drive, but the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic original owner was from Knoxville. The 1st “doctor” was from North Carolina, the only state where he was licensed to practice medicine. In the late ’80s & early ’90s the abortionist flew in either from Kentucky or Northeast Tennessee. Many of the clients were from Georgia & Alabama.

 Women? The company in public statements claimed to offer women help in dealing with difficult issues & offer an acceptable medical solution to serious problems. Instead, its parking lot “deathscorts” tore from the hands of patrons educational literature handed out by Christian sidewalk counselors. About half of those slain were infants of the male sex. It’s noteworthy the other half were of the female sex.

By David Tulis

The Chattanooga Women’s Clinic opened its doors April 21, 1975, on Vance Road to an outcry from local residents, hospitals & pro-lifers. On opening day, TOM COLE, co-owner & manager, stated, “We have met & exceeded all requirements of the state of Tennessee.” The clinic performed abortions that day. It got a certificate to perform abortions only in April 1976 thanks to pressure applied by the head of Planned Parenthood in Nashville.

Baby, Mother Die That summer

That summer, on July 11, BEVERLY ANN MOORE died as a result of a botched abortion at the facility a day prior. Dr. J. HAYES JR. left part of her unborn child in her uterus. A chilled Beverly, 15, was taken to a hospital in Athens, Tenn., & was told to travel to Knoxville to see Hayes. Hayes told the girl’s parents “Beverly would be all right.” She died 15 minutes later on her way home. No action was taken after a district attorney did a preliminary investigation of the death (Chatta. Times, Jan31/76).

Less than a month later, on July 30, Tom Cole & Dr. HAROLD HOKE of Charlotte N.C., were indicted on 3 counts each of illegally performing an abortion without a medical license in Tennessee. Cole was charged with aiding & abetting the alleged abortion, given on opening day, the same day Cole told the press that clinic operation exceeded all of the state’s requirements (Times, Aug1/75, Jun24/76).

Undercover Probe

Less than 2 months later Cole was indicted in Knoxville on 10 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses & operating an allied abortion company in Knoxville without a license. SUSIE CRAWLEY, Chattanooga administrator until her death in 1991 who had no special medical training, was indicted also. These charges were brought by two undercover policewomen who went into the facility pretending to be concerned about possible pregnancies. They were told they were pregnant & advised to have abortions. Neither was pregnant (Times, Sept25/75).

“Care & Precaution” of Woman

Another botched abortion brought a lawsuit against the company a short time later. A woman, left unnamed in the Times report (Oct8/75), sued for F$85,000 compensatory damages & F$500,000 punitive damages, saying her abortion was done “without proper care & precaution.” The suit accused Dr. JOHN SCHANZE of Oak Ridge of failing to “use proper precautions to determine the medical history” of the patient. The woman was rushed to a hospital emergency room following destruction of her child. (State law defined abortion as “destroying [a] child before its birth.”) The abortion took place as the company operated without a state certificate that would make its abortions legal.

In December — still 1975 — the clinic was denied a certificate of need by the Georgia-Tennessee Regional Health Commission.

An unfavorable recommendation from the review committee “was based on the fact that existing facilities are now operating at 35 to 40 percent capacity & that ‘the Chattanooga Women’s Clinic provided inadequate assurances of quality care, especially in emergency situations,’ stated a release from the health commission” (Times, Decll/75).

The clinic was not shut down despite its string of 1st-year woes. It sued the city for F$31 million, alleging harassment, & fought to stay open (Times, Aug/30, Sept27/75).

Legal Counterattack

The botched abortion leading to Beverly Moore’s death spurred her parents in 1976 to demand F$500,000 in actual damages & F$500,000 in punitive damages. Three months later, in April, the company was given its certificate by the health commission (Times, Jan31/76).

“Rush, Rush, Rush!”

Cole & Hoke (the latter used 3 aliases) came to trial in June on the unlicenced abortion charge. An Athens physician, WILLIAM DAVIS, testified that he quit the company after 2 days of work when it opened because he became “suspicious” of the enterprise (Times, Jun24/76).

Susie Crawley

Davis said he “advised Hoke that he believed 1 patient was past the 1st trimester pregnancy [legal killing age limit] but said that Hoke ignored his observation & performed the abortion on the patient,” the Times reported. Davis said he discovered the supposed lab of the establishment to be Hoke’s office; he grew suspicious “because he had seen none of the lab work which was claimed as a function of the clinic,” the newspaper said.

The atmosphere at the mill was one of “rush, rush, rush, get it done fast,” he said, of such haste that nurses who missed lunch complained. The day after he testified a mistrial was declared due to state witnesses who mysteriously failed to appear.

Hurt Client Sues After Boy Born

Not long after the trial, in August, MARY SUE WALKER from Alabama sued the company & “physician” STEPHEN B. EDELSON for serious injuries inflicted by a botched abortion. Mrs. Walker had to be taken to East Ridge Hospital where part of her intestines had to be removed to save her life. This part of the lawsuit was set at F$600,000. A demand for F$250,000 more was made for breach of contract: Mrs. Walker gave birth to a baby boy. Her abortion was to have eliminated him on a day about 4 months after opening day (Times, Aug13/76).

“Willful neglect” Injury

Fewer than 30 days after the Walker lawsuit was filed, CAROL ANNETTE BLEVINS sued the company for F$60,000 charging the clinic with “outrageous conduct in its callous, indifferent & willful neglect” of Miss Blevins’ health (N-FP, Octll/76).

A New Decade: Buying Off the Millwoods

By 1980 the clinic was doing most abortions in Hamilton County. In the ’80s, it destroyed an estimated 19,104 boys & girls, figured as an estimated 90 percent of the 21,227 killings countywide as reported to the state (Chattanooga News-Free Press, Aug30/92).

The bloody decade’s 1st lawsuit for a botched job hit in May 1981 — F$925,000 in damages was demanded from Hoke & Crawley over a botched abortion done at an affiliate clinic in Charlotte, N.C. JUDY MILLWOOD, 37, had an abortion at CWC, but found she was still pregnant. She returned, but was told she was too advanced in her pregnancy for the Chattanooga unit to abort the child. Crawley directed her to the affiliate clinic in Charlotte, N.C. For 7 hours, her husband, James, a stonemason, waited with their 5 children, ages 3 to 13, in the parking lot while the operation took place.

Worried, he finally demanded to see Hoke & his wife. Mrs. Millwood was rushed to a Charlotte hospital, in deep shock, blood pressure reading zero, according to hospital records filed as evidence. “A team of surgeons opened her abdomen & found it filled with blood from profuse internal bleeding,” her pleadings to the court said. “A 3-and-a-half inch hole was found in her uterus through which a damaged 22-week fetus had been punched into the abdominal cavity. Parts of her intestines had been excised & lacerated. In the ensuing 5-hour operation which saved Mrs. Millwood’s life, the surgical team supplied her with massive infusions of blood & performed a complete hysterectomy to remove her torn uterus, & repaired her damaged organs.”

Crawley induced the financially hard-pressed couple to sign papers releasing the abortion company from responsibility; payments, one to the amount of F$6,000, were offered, & accepted. The suit was dismissed in July 1982 after the clinic’s lawyers shifted Judge TED MILLBURN’s attention away from Mrs. Millwood’s injuries to complicated questions of contracts & interstate law.

Illegal Abortion on Record

One illegal abortion at the clinic was detected by state authorities. The 1982 abortion got a writeup, but apparently no action was taken. A visit Sept. 23 brought this cryptic note on a survey form: “One record 9982S revealed abortion done at 14 wks gestation – 65 gm. fetal content. No complications were documented. Adm. stated: Dr. was unaware of pt.’s gestation until procedure started. Pt. did well.” Tennessee law says ambulatory clinics cannot for safety reasons perform abortions past 12 weeks gestation, or the 1st “trimester.”

Yarbrough Begins to Profit

In 1983 the clinic entered a 10-year leasing contract with new landlord, local developer E. PORTER YARBROUGH, & associate RONALD BERKE. A 1992 description by Yarbrough said rent was F$4,052 a month, or F$48,624 a year.

Courts Stay Busy

In June 1985 pro-lifers on vigil duty outside the establishment sued Chattanooga Women’s Clinic for harassment, demanding F$3 million. The suit said the facility harassed the protesters by taking their photographs, lying in court, allowing them to be physically abused, summoning police unnecessarily, brandishing guns & allowing its security guard to say, “Today I am going to bust some heads,” according to witnesses.

Street preacher DAN MARTINO’s 3-year legal battle with the company ended with a settlement in early 1986. The abortionists dropped demands for F$600,000 because it did not want to give pro-lifers access to its records to prove it had suffered a loss. The clinic put a priority on keeping its files secret (Times, Jan28/86).

Crystal Bryant Injured

A botched 1985 abortion led in May 1988 to a lawsuit by a woman named CRYSTAL BRYANT. When she went to the facility, a security guard prevented her from speaking to Christian counselors standing outside ready to provide her full information on the abortion industry. No information was given her of alternatives. Though Tennessee law said a client must wait 2 days before aborting, Ms. Bryant went into surgery the same day. She suffered severe bleeding, but the abortionist refused to give follow-up care. She developed a severe infection in her fallopian tubes & ovaries & is sterile, the suit said.

Judge SAM PAYNE threw the case out without reviewing the violations of the law because he said she had not filed the suit soon enough. Payne said, “… Since this is a medical malpractice suit governed by (state law), all other theories of contract, misrepresentation, outrageous conduct, conspiracy to commit an illegal act, violation of Tennessee Constitution Article 3, Section 3, & violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act are dismissed” (Times, Sept2/88).

Picketing continued. It is not known how many minds were changed by it, nor how many babies’ lives were spared.

Late in 1987, 2 motorists entering the clinic parking lot were charged with trying to run over 2 pro-life volunteers.

The local press throughout the ‘80s gave little attention to noteworthy facts which might have suggested to readers the carelessness of the Chattanooga abortion clinic’s operations. State inspectors on March 17, 1987, found the abortuary reused curettes (surgical blades) & stored used ones with clean supplies, but it wasn’t reported until more than 5 years later (N-FP, Septl/92).

In legal action July 14, 1988, chancery court Judge HOWELL PEOPLES, an elected public servant, limited further — from 8 to 2 citizens who could stand in front of the facility picketing. The barrier was not successfully defied by local activists. The injunction came as Martino & the abortionists settled yet another legal skirmish over the right to picket & address clinic patrons.

Tammy Jenkins Battered

The clinic was besieged by another legal challenge to its practices in a lawsuit by Georgia resident TAMMY JENKINS. She charged that the company operators conspired to commit assault & battery on her. She demanded a total of F$800,000 (N-FP, Apr21/89; SICLER Report, Apr28/89). The abortion company failed to provide her full information on abortion as required by state law; failed to tear out the last shreds of her baby, causing her serious medical complications & other problems; failed to provide follow-up care; conspired to commit assault & battery on her by way of “gross negligence”; & violated the state-required 2-day waiting period.

Authorities Sleep; Citizens Act

One bright spot in the story of the Tennessee corporation in Chattanooga: a renewed interest by area Christians in governance. Local elected officials, ignoring a huge body of American law, refused to protect from destruction those individuals whom the state code referred to (before a revision) as child or infant. To compensate, a group of citizens decided to enforce the common law prohibition against murder on grounds of necessity.

Despite prosecutions, their actions were upheld in court.

Taking back the authority the citizens delegate to the State via the Tennessee Constitution, they “rescued” children at the corporation on Jan. 21 & April 29 of 1989 — the 1st two of 3 such operations.

Led by BILL TICKEL a computer specialist from Charleston, Tenn., & podiatrist Dr. DENNIS BIZZOCO of Chattanooga, they were arrested & charged with misdemeanor trespassing — 70 people the first time and 15 the next. By blocking doors & facing arrest, they saved 4 unborn U.S. citizens from destruction. On April 6, the company launched a suit seeking to recover the profits it lost when it was unable to slay the 4 babies. For this blocking of trade it demanded F$250 (times 4), plus F$100,000 in other damages. Pro-lifers countersued, demanding company records as evidence & alleging the facility was a public nuisance (see SICLER, Apr20/89).

At a city court trial June 13, 4 abortion activists were sentenced to 6-day jail terms for the 2nd attempt to spare the unborn.

Contrary to an erroneous report in the Times, they had pleaded not guilty. Judge BILL COX denied them a trial & found them guilty. He told 1 pro-lifer he had been confident they would appeal. To the judge’s apparent dismay, the activists did not appeal.

The 2 women & 2 men (including a researcher for this history) emerged June 29 from the Hamilton County workhouse after 5 days of incarceration.

A News-Free Press report Aug. 17, 1989, indicated a majority of 11 abortion companies in the state failed to acquire malpractice insurance as required by legislation that took effect July 1. Pickets in 1992 carried placards noting the clinic still was not covered as per state law.

Guerrilla Action & Cash

As the rescue cases were parked on the docket, pro-lifer CHARLES WYSONG came close to snatching away from the clinic the state charter it needed to legally operate. The charter had been revoked March 31, & reinstated by the state at nearly the same instant the state took F$10 from Wysong to buy the charter (News-Free Press, May25,26/89).

A third operation rescue on the morning of Oct. 27, 1989, included 75 participants, 34 of whom were arrested by 15 city police. Two hundred pro-life adults and youth thronged the area. “Our purpose is to put ourselves between the victimizer & the baby,” said TONY MEULEMANS. Several ministers were seized. The pro-lifers, insisting on their right under the Constitution to an indictment, had the case bound over the grand jury Nov. 7. Eight pro-lifers charged in the 2nd rescue were sentenced Nov. 29 by City Court Judge Cox for violating “good behavior freedom” from the 1st case.

Cox sentenced them even though they had only been charged — not convicted — in the new case, despite his initial stipulations.

Big money & establishment charities have over the years backstopped the abortion industry & its pimps. Activists with Abortion-Free Chattanooga picketed a local fractional reserve lender, American National Bank, Oct. 18, linking it with the abortion industry. A local benevolence, the COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, was planning to give Planned Parenthood F$12,000 to welcome the group to the city.

Planned Parenthood had been considered a backup if the Chattanooga abortion clinic folded. The money was given, despite complaints.

Population Stagnation

In 1989 167 babies, most of whom would have perished at Chattanooga Women’s Clinic, were saved by the ministry of AAA WOMEN”S SERVICES, nearby on Vance Road. Forty-three percent of women coming through AAA’s doors in 1989 wanted an abortion.

Mortality & migration caused Chattanooga to suffer the biggest population loss of any city in Tennessee in the decade (Times, Nov28/89). In the late 1980s many public school buildings were abandoned due to a decline in the number of students. Wysong’s Abortion Injury Report put the human losses in dollar terms, citing research by Ray Clinebelle in 1990 of the effect of the deaths of 24 million boys & girls. Seventeen years of abortion had cost the diaper industry F$17 billion, the food industry F$99 billion, school construction F$268 billion and so on with total economic loss estimated at more than F$1 trillion. Losses in the next 17 years he calculated would hit the housing industry for F$630 billion & and other economic areas in the multi-billions in paper dollars. Overall estimated economic loss: F$15.9 trillion.

7 Months In Coma

An Atlanta abortion which killed a local 27-year-old woman, CATHERINE PIERCE, brought a heavy judgment Jan. 4 (“Child Wins $2 Million In Abortion Death Case,” N-FP, Jan4/90). The judgment against Atlanta Surgery Center was to aid Mrs. Pierce’s daughter, 11, who lost her mother from an overdose of anesthesia.

This photo is of a 7-month old baby boy, slain at a clinic in Houston in 1989, according a prolife website. More than 30,000 babies were slain at Chattanooga Women’s Clinic, but no photos are available of remains.

Mrs. Pierce was in a coma 7 months before her death Oct. 10 at Erlanger Medical Center. She had worked as a licensed practical nurse. Victims of the industry elsewhere in Tennessee were having their stories at least mentioned in the News-Free Press.

In January 1990 a baby who was supposed to have been slain was, instead, born alive in a Nashville abortion firm. State officials said they would try to revoke the license of a Nashville abortion firm accused of botching the abortion of a teen-ager who gave birth to a 29-ounce daughter. The baby, De’ANGELA NICOLE ALEXANDER, was in critical condition in the neonatal intensive care in Vanderbilt University Medical Center (N-FP, Janl0/90).

An N-FP March 19 report said 4 suits had been filed against the Nashville clinic.

Meanwhile 2 pro-lifers were accused in March of taking part in “disorderly conduct” & were ordered in April to stay away from the clinic by a City Court judge as a grand jury weighed possible charges. No indictment came.

Crawley Laid Waste

When Crawley was in the hospital fighting cancer, Christians mindful of godly charity saw an opportunity to show Christian love & mercy to her by messages & attempted visits. That only created anger on the part of the dying Crawley: “Women’s Clinic Head Suing Abortion Foes For $200,000” (N-FP, Apr16/90).

Those targeted were Pastor BOB BORGER & pro-life physician PHILLIP NEWTON, 4 other individuals & a pro-life group. Two parties named didn’t at all take part in the expressions of Christian concern. In a statement (“Abortion Foes Deny Charges Of Harassing Clinic’s Chief,” N-FP, Apr17/92), the pro-lifers said they never said or did anything as alleged in the abortionist’s charges.

The case was abandoned in late July.

A Judge’s Plea

In an unrelated incident 10 days later a temporary restraining order was imposed by Circuit Court Judge Judge SAM PAYNE after it was requested by the estranged husband of a woman who was planning an abortion. “If the wife can make the decision about the fate of this child, then why can’t the husband make it?” the judge asked. “But the court would never uphold the husband deciding that the wife should have an abortion against her will. “

Though the judge on April 30 lifted the ban, he said: “There are agencies who would love to have this child & people who would want to care for babies.” Judge Payne said he had been prepared to assign the unborn baby a lawyer (N-FP, Apr30/92).

Illegal Abortions Boost Rescuers’ Defense

Chattanooga Women’s Clinic’s disregard for the law proved decisive in getting 8 baby rescuers off the hook when they went on trial in Hamilton County Criminal Court on Sept. 12 on charges of trespassing in the third rescue Oct. 27, 1989.

The clinic advertised for abortions performed after the 1st trimester the maximum allowed for walk-in facilities by state law. The judge 1st denied the Christians the right to put forth the ancient defense of necessity, which allows for trespasses to protect life or to prevent a crime. But the abortion clinic business manager testified that the clinic did abortions beyond the 1st trimester — it even listed prices for such abortions in its pamphlets. The judge said he would allow for the necessity defense on his findings of illegal abortions taking place. The state said it would appeal. Judge DOUG MEYER declared a mistrial.

Long before the 3 rescues were deemed a legal necessity by area residents, a group of pro-lifers, including David Tulis, informed District Attorney GARY GERBITZ of the illegal abortions in a meeting June 29, 1989, but he had not acted.

On the day the mistrial was declared, the Times reported that the county health department’s latest effort to “reduce infant morbidity & mortality” was “Project Hug.” Local, state & federal authorities had learned to ignore abortion as a legal, moral or welfare issue.

Please come back for Part II of “Rush, Rush, Rush!” And be sure to post a link to us among your email and Facebook friends. 


  1. Thea Harning

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