EL CENTRO – The El Centro City Council held a closed session meeting at noon March 23 to discuss and possibly hire outside legal counsel to look into the legal ramifications of overturning the El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) Board of Trustees decisions.
The City Council met to address the hospital board’s recent decisions in regards to locating a Planned Parenthood Clinic in El Centro, a controversial issue that has brought an outcry from pro-life advocates from all over Imperial Valley. Technically, the City of El Centro owns ECRMC and formed the ECRMC Board of Trustees to make decisions for the hospital.
El Centro Mayor Efrain Silva shared that legal counsel had been chosen by the council, and members must wait for the counsel to decide if they will be able to take the case on, considering the parameters set forth.
Following the city council’s closed meeting, the ECRMC Board of Trustees met on March 24.
Attorney David Gibbs and a small contingent of Imperial Valley Coalition for Life members addressed the ECRMC Board of Trustees at the March 24th meeting to speak on essentially the same issues that were presented to the El Centro City Council on March 17 by Patrick Harris.
The letter presented was in regards to alleged violations of the California Brown Act and California Records Act that occurred during the signing of the Transfer Agreement between the ECRMC Board of Trustees and Planned Parenthood on February 24.
Two of the members of the board, President Alejandro Calderon and Trustee Jon Edney, resigned over the closed session discussion that lead to the vote.
Area church pastors addressed the board and laid out their complaints concerning the violations, each having their own individual take on the matter.
The board was told that if they did not listen and hear the heart of their community, a boycott would be initiated on ECRMC. It was pointed out that the hospital is working on a small margin and that most of the people boycotting are the ones keeping the hospital afloat because they have insurance. If the board does not act on the issue by the next board meeting, a PR campaign will be started to boycott the hospital.
“If you don’t rectify the legal issues,” said Gibbs, “we will consider legal litigation.”
Gibbs is the President and General Counsel of the National Center for Life and Liberty, a ministry organization that defends life and liberty freedoms nationwide. He was the lead attorney in the Terri Schiavo case representing Schiavo’s parents as they fought to save the life of their handicapped daughter. This case went before the United States Supreme Court twice in ten days. Gibbs is a frequent spokesperson on radio and television having appeared on many major news and talk programs.
Gibbs believes: “If it’s wrong, fight it. If it’s right, fight for it.”
His life verse is Matthew 25:40, where Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“All we are asking them to do, from a legal standpoint, is to right the wrong,” said Nicole Rothfleisch, President of the Board of Directors of Amaris Ministries. “They could go back and do everything on the up and up, according to the Brown Act and the Records Act. They could still sign the Transfer Agreement. Our hope is that in this process that it will be stalled, they will do their due diligence, and find out they don’t legally have to sign the agreement. It is in their best interest to listen to their constituents and ultimately not sign it. There is not a need for an abortion clinic because of organizations like Amaris Ministries, Real Hope Center, and the many churches that have offered their services as resources.”
The ECRMC Board of Trustees elected a new president to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of the two trustees at the last closed session vote for the Planned Parenthood Transfer Agreement. Charles Humphrey, M.D. was elected president. Humphrey is known to be pro-abortion and voted yes on the Transfer Agreement in closed session.