Case: Oasis Family Birthing Center v. Alabama Department of Public Health

CV-2023-901109.00 | Alabama state trial court

Filed Date: Aug. 8, 2023

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 8, 2023, a group of Alabama birth centers, their respective founders who were medical professionals, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (an Alabama state trial court). The complaint was filed against Alabama Department of Public Health (“ADPH”) and the State Health Officer for their actions that allegedly amounted to de facto ban on freestanding birth centers throughout the state, preventing three such birth centers …

On August 8, 2023, a group of Alabama birth centers, their respective founders who were medical professionals, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (an Alabama state trial court). The complaint was filed against Alabama Department of Public Health (“ADPH”) and the State Health Officer for their actions that allegedly amounted to de facto ban on freestanding birth centers throughout the state, preventing three such birth centers from providing pregnancy care for patients. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, alleged that ADPH required that state birth centers hold a “hospital” license, despite birthing centers operating on a midwifery model of care that does not fall within the regulation’s definition of “hospital.” The plaintiffs contended that ADPH made it impossible for birth centers to even attempt to obtain such a license and caused harm by threatening criminal and civil enforcement action for being “unlicensed hospitals.” As such, the complaint alleged that ADPH’s actions exceeded statutory authority under the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act and violated the plaintiffs’ due process right to pursue useful activities under the Alabama Constitution by  preventing  them from owning, operating, and/or working at a freestanding birth center. The plaintiffs further alleged violations of the fundamental right to procreate under both the Alabama and U.S. Constitutions. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The case was assigned to Judge Greg Griffin. 

On September 30, 2023, Judge Griffin granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and enjoined the defendants from refusing to timely license freestanding birth centers. This preliminary injunction order was supplemented with findings of facts on October 3, 2023, reasoning that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims as well as immediate and irreparable injury.

The plaintiffs then filed an Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive relief after ADPH passed further regulations, which took effect on October 15, 2023. The plaintiffs alleged that “[f]ar from creating a timely, feasible path to licensure, Defendants’ recent birth center regulations…continued to block freestanding birth centers from opening and operating in Alabama.” The plaintiffs added a claim regarding violations of due process and equal protection under both the state and federal constitutions, as well, for they claimed the additional 2023 regulations a) deprived the plaintiffs of their protectible property interest and b) treated differently, and without rational basis, the plaintiffs and individuals who established, operated, or worked in similarly situated health care facilities. The case remains ongoing. 

 

Summary Authors

Kavitha Babu (4/7/2024)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

CV-2023-901109.00

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Aug. 8, 2023

Aug. 8, 2023

Complaint

CV-2023-901109.00

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Sept. 30, 2023

Sept. 30, 2023

Order/Opinion

CV-2023-901109.00

Supplemental Preliminary Injunction Order

Oct. 3, 2023

Oct. 3, 2023

Order/Opinion

CV-2023-901109.00

First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Jan. 19, 2024

Jan. 19, 2024

Complaint

Docket

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

Reproductive Issues

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 8, 2023

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A group of Alabama birthing centers, medical professionals, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public (for-profit) corporation

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Alabama Department of Public Health, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Facility Type(s):

Non-government for-profit

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Procedural Due Process

Equal Protection

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Order Duration: 2023 - None

Issues

Reproductive rights:

Facility requirements

Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)