Michigan AG Moves to Shutter Abortion Clinic

     DETROIT (CN) – Confusion about whether a licensed physician owns a Michigan abortion clinic prompted the state attorney general to demand its dissolution by the court.
     Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he is taking action against Summit Women’s Center, located at 15801 W. McNichols Rd. in Detroit, pursuant to a state law requiring that “medical and other professional services be provided through corporations owned by licensed professionals.”
     “Regarding the practice of medicine, this ensures that doctors direct care and supervise medical services,” the AG’s office said in a press release Thursday.
     Summit was able to reconcile 2013 complaints about its ownership, but Schuette said new allegations suggest “that Summit P.C. was organized through fraud and repeatedly and willfully exceeded its authority.”
     Though Summit previously listed a licensed physician named Alex Pickens as its sole officer and director, its 2015 annual report certified that Connecticut-based David Lipton “was Summit P.C.’s president, secretary, treasurer, director, and sole shareholder,” the complaint filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court says.
     Representatives for Summit did not return a request for comment on Schuette’s lawsuit.
     Schuette is a Republican, but a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office denied that the complaint is politically motivated.
     “This is about the license and practice of an abortion clinic, but it is no different than if it was, say, a podiatry office,” press secretary Andrea Bitely said in an interview.
     “We are looking to close the clinic to protect patients,” Bitely added. “Right now we are trying to protect women.”
     In addition to contending that Lipton is not a licensed physician in Michigan, Schuette says Pickens failed to list Summit as an asset when the doctor filed for bankruptcy in late 2013.
     The bankruptcy filing required Pickens to list “all businesses in which [he] was an officer, director, partner, or managing executive … within six years,” according to the complaint (emphasis in original).
     This omission suggests that Pickens “may never have been the true owner of Summit P.C.,” the complaint continues.     
     Bitely emphasized that the investigation is ongoing, and “there are no fraud charges being filed at this time.”
     Without a licensed medical professional as a shareholder, Schuette says “Summit P.C. may not lawfully provide any medical services, nor may it supervise any employees who may be performing these services.”
     Schuette also flagged some changes in Summit P.C.’s filings about whether its corporate purpose is the “practice of medicine” or “management company.”
     The latter activity, Schuette emphasized, “is not a ‘professional service’ under MCL 450.1282(b) and is not a legal activity for a professional corporation.”
     In addition to providing abortion services at its location on McNichols Road, the complaint says Summit has a registered office address of 601 Abbot Rd. in East Lansing.
     A website for Summit Women’s Center says it opened in 1973, “one of the first clinics in the state of Michigan to offer low-cost abortions.”
     Boasting affiliation with the Abortion Care Network and the National Abortion Federation, Summit has an offices operating in Atlanta but its Connecticut location closed in October 2015.
     Abortion Care Network executive director Nikki Madsen said the Connecticut clinic closed because of a drop in business.
     Since Connecticut now offers more centers providing medical abortions by the pill RU-486, there is less demand for centers offering surgical abortions..
     “Summit’s closure in Connecticut is not unusual,” Madsen said. “It wasn’t economically sustainable or profitable for them anymore.”
     Abortion is actually down by 40 percent, Madsen added, noting that long-lasting, reversible contraception has played a huge role in that.

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