In February, 2015 I received a call from Father Terry Gensenmer of CEC for Life. With controlled frustration in his voice, he described a project he, Operation Rescue, and Life Legal Defense Foundation had been working on for more than a year. Information had come to them that there was a rogue doctor performing abortions in Selma, Al and he was not licensed to do so in accordance with Alabama law. They had submitted a complaint, complete with extensive documentation to the state, but after more than eight months, had received no response. He then invited me to participate in a press conference to be held later that month calling on the state to shut down Samuel Lett, the abortionist. I was happy to do so.
Since Kermit Gosnell was exposed in 2009, I have been monitoring reports of abortionists that injure women and run substandard facilities. All across the nation there are abortionists who ignore state civil and criminal laws, especially those designed to protect women from predators and substandard medical care. Lett’s center provided a glaring example of this and the state’s complicity in covering over abortion center violations. So off to Alabama I went and participated in the press conference challenging the state to no longer turn a blind eye to this abortionist who was preying on Black and poor women in Selma. In my mind’s eye this was an easy thing to do. Lett was illegal. The state could verify his violations by simply sitting in the parking lot and observing the many women going in pregnant and coming out not. Piece of cake I thought.
But Alabama chose to go the way of Pennsylvania and every other state that ignores their own laws when it comes to abortion. A little over a month later they said they were “unable to establish that [Lett’s] facility performed a number of abortions that would require it to be licensed as an abortion or reproductive health center.” Once again poor women and women of color were allowed to be preyed upon by abortionists more interested in their ill gotten gain than they are interested in providing “health care” to their patients.
It was in this environment that the Selma Project was birthed through prayer. A gathering of Black, Caucasian, Latina, and Native Americans was called to rally, pray and walk across the Pettus Bridge calling attention to the violations of civil and criminal laws by Samuel Lett and other abortionists across the country. We called on the State of Alabama to do the right thing and shut Lett down. We called on the residents of Selma and Alabama to join us in protesting Lett’s illegal operation and the many violations that occur daily across the country, harming women physically and mentally. We called on the nation to join us in demanding the immediate shutdown of the back alley abortionists like Lett Planned Parenthood surgical centers and others that now have the covering of Roe v. Wade to hide their shoddy and substandard medical care. We united under one banner to highlight the destruction that Lett and others have been wreaking on unsuspecting poor women in communities of color, calling attention to the many women that have died in one of the abortion surgical chambers that dot Black and Latino neighborhood. Our united, concerted effort paid off in a big way.
The Central Alabama Women's Clinic, formerly used as Lett's back-alley abortion clinic, is now operating as a weight-loss facility.
Today we celebrate this victory over the darkness of abortion. While we do not know the consequences of the State of Alabama allowing Lett to operate for so long in violation of state laws, we celebrate that he is no longer preying on women. Though they did not take steps to shut Lett down, we pray Alabama will still do the right thing and hold him accountable for his violations of the law and the injuries he inflicted on his patients.