Pro-life Alabama Sen. Greg Reed said the company he works for doesn’t do business with abortion clinics.
But one Alabama abortion provider said that policy must be new because in October, Preferred Medical Systems offered to sell her a variety of ultrasound equipment.
Reed, R-Jasper, voted last week to move Senate Bill 12 out of the Senate Health Committee, of which he is chairman.
The bill would make it a felony for physicians who do not perform ultrasounds and display the images to the mother prior to an abortion.
As originally written, the bill calls for the ultrasounds to be done either vaginally or with an abdominal scan, whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly.
Reed, vice president of Preferred Medical Systems, told the TimesDaily he supports the bill because it would help “a mother to understand that a live baby is inside her body.”
He also said the company, which sells ultrasound equipment, would not financially benefit if the bill became law. It is the company’s policy not to do business with abortion providers, Reed said.
But, Diane Derzis, who operates abortion clinics in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, said the company was willing to do business with her later last year.
“They’re lying, they’re absolutely lying,” Derzis said.
A copy of price quotes show that the Cordova, Tenn.-based company was offering Derzis several pieces of equipment used as demonstration models for between about $12,000 to $15,000.
Reed stood by his statement Friday, saying the company doesn’t always know immediately when it is an abortion clinic that’s seeking price information.
“Abortion clinics, we are not interested in doing business with them, but we do not know that when they call and ask for information,” Reed said.
State health officials said Alabama has six registered abortion providers. Mississippi has one.
Reed said the president of Preferred Medical Supply corresponded with and sent the quote to Derzis, But he said that stopped when he realized she was an abortion provider.
“At that point, we ceased any sales activity with her,” he said.
Reed said he knew nothing about the quote sent to Derzis.
“I stand by my position that we do not do business with abortion clinics,” he said.
Company president Kirk McGuire declined to discuss the company’s policies Friday morning.
“I’m not going to get involved in politics,” McGuire said. “Greg is the politician, I am not. As far as our policies, those are private policies and we are not going to discuss them with the media or anyone else.”
Brett Wadsworth, a Jasper attorney, said he wondered about Reed’s claim that the company didn’t sell to abortion clinics when he read about them in the newspaper this week.
So, Wadsworth, who ran against Reed as a Democrat in the 2010 Senate election, started calling abortion clinics.
“I figured I would make a few phone calls and see if it were true that that’s the policy,” he said.
That’s how he came across Derzis, who gave him a copy of the Oct. 26, 2011, quote from Preferred Medical.
Wadsworth said Reed’s support of the bill is a conflict of interest because the bill would not just impact abortion clinics, but other medical facilities. State regulations allow for a limited number of abortions to be performed at medical facilities other than designated abortion clinics.
“That would be like me introducing a law that says anyone who gets a speeding ticket has to go get an attorney to represent them,” Wadsworth said Friday.
Derzis said that out of curiosity, she called the company’s Tennessee office Thursday and asked about buying equipment. She said she was transferred to an Alabama sales rep, not Reed. When she told him she operated an abortion clinic, he said, “That’s a problem,” Derzis said.
But she still insists she has previously done business with a representative from Preferred Medical. Reed said the company has about a dozen employees and one, who covered the Georgia area, was fired “with cause” in October.
“I don’t know if there is any connection,” Reed said.
He added he checked and found no records of transactions between his company and Derzis.
Reed said his anti-abortion stance in the state Legislature sometimes makes him a target of pro-choice activists.
“When you stand for pro-life, you are always going to have a small, vocal minority that is against you,” he said. “I am pro-life and I was pro-life before I ran for Senate…. I am going to continue to defend the unborn child.”
Mary Sell is the TimesDaily Montgomery Bureau chief. She can be reached at mary.sell@TimesDaily.com.