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Illinois Abortion Clinic to Remain Closed Until at least Beginning of 2012

by | Nov 30, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Northern Illinois Women’s Center

The Northern Illinois Women’s Center, long the target of pro-life protests, will remain closed at least until January 4 after the abortion clinic’s lawyer and a lawyer for the Department of Public Health on Monday told  Administrative Law Judge Cynthia Ramirez that they “have continued to make progress, but two or three issues remain” unresolved.

The abortion clinic was shut down September 30 after the Health department found conditions at the abortion clinic “that are directly threatening to the public interest, health, safety and welfare requiring immediate, emergency action,” according to a three-page notice that was dated September 29.  Yesterday’s postponement was the second.

The expectation had been that the parties would present to Ramirez an agreed-to settlement on Monday during a telephone conference hearing. Instead, Eva Byerley, a lawyer for the Department of Public Health, and the clinic’s attorney, Harold Hirshman, informed Ramirez there remained outstanding issues. In response Ramirez told them to be prepared for an in-person hearing January 4 in Chicago.

The result is that it will not be until the new year at the earliest that the parties will know whether the abortion clinic is allowed to reopen or if the closure is extended or if the clinic is permanently closed. Previously attorneys Byerley and Hirshman told the judge that a hearing would be unnecessary.

The Health Department first conducted an inspection over a three-day period in June. Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman, told the Rockford Register Star that the abortion clinic was given a plan of correction for its violations of the Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Licensing Requirements Code and Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, and informed that its progress would be monitored.

The state returned to the Northern Illinois Women’s Center on September 15. Some violations had been addressed, but others hadn’t and new ones were discovered when the state re-inspected the clinic, according to Curry.

The list of violations, according to the newspaper’s summary of the suspension notice, included

* Neither of the abortionists on staff had maintained surgical practice privileges with an Illinois-licensed hospital, presumably in case there was a medical emergency

* The absence of a registered nurse to direct and supervise the nursing personnel and the nursing care of patients.

* “The facility did not ensure the presence of a registered nurse in the operating room during all invasive and operative procedures.”

The health department issued an emergency license suspension in September, and fined the Northern Illinois Women’s Center $15,000. 

The abortion clinic challenged the suspension, according to Corina Curry of the Register Star. “[T]he clinic states the necessity of a registered nurse for certain procedures is not apparent, that it has an agreement with a Rockford physician with admitting privileges at a Rockford hospital if the need arises and that there is no evidence that the clinic’s failures in these areas threatened the health, safety or welfare of its patients.”

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Categories: Abortion