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Rockford Abortion Clinic Closes Unexpectedly

by | Jan 17, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Northern Illinois Women’s Center

In a decision that caught both sides by surprise, the Northern Illinois Women’s Center has decided to close, after having been given what appeared to be an easy route on January 4 to reopening a clinic that had been closed for three months due to health and safety violations.

Instead, they sent an email Friday to the Rockford Register Star, which had covered the debate closely over the past seven months. The Star’s Corina Curry characterized the reasons behind the “voluntary” closure as “based on lack of support from the community, the political climate surrounding the abortion issue and the challenge the clinic would face in rebuilding staff,” although the portion of the email the story reproduced did not reference those reasons.

Friday’s unexpected decision is the final twist in the saga of an abortion clinic that has been the subject of vigorous pro-life protests since 1974.

Last June the Department of Public Health cited the abortion clinic for health and safety violations after a three-day inspection. Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, told the Star that the abortion clinic was given a plan of correction for its violations, and informed that its progress would be monitored.

When the abortion clinic was re-inspected September 15, most of the violations had been corrected,  according to records from the state. But not only were some violations not corrected (such as failing to have a registered nurse in the operating room and directing patient care), new ones were noted, such as “doctors not having surgical privileges with a licensed Illinois hospital and not having a written agreement with a local laboratory to perform certain tests,” Curry reported.

On September 30, the Department ordered an emergency suspension of the clinic’s license and fined them $15,000. The Center has been open since 1974.

But on January 4, the abortion clinic was given the green light to reopen, having satisfied the health department. There were two options. Either pay a $9,750 fine, with the understanding that the state could immediately revoke its license without holding a hearing, if any serious violations are repeated. Or “pay a $1,000 fine, voluntarily relinquish its operating license and close,” according to Curry.

The Northern Illinois Women’s Center, the region’s only abortion clinic, chose the latter. According to the story the closest abortion clinics are 70 miles away.

The Center’s email said, “The staff is very saddened by the closing. We are not done grieving this loss and still are struggling with surrendering to the idea that we will not be able to do this work tomorrow or the day after.”

The Star quoted one of the many faithful sidewalk counselors, Sister Rosalia Bauer, who said “It’s a tremendous relief.” 

“Bauer, who has visited the clinic for the past 12 years to stand vigil outside, said she will now have more time to dedicate to other anti-abortion efforts such as helping families who have decided to keep their babies and bringing more free mobile ultrasound units to other clinic locations. 

“’We’ve been waiting so long,’ Bauer said. ‘I’m greatly rejoiced. … Persistent prayer and being present at this killing site, offering hope and alternatives to mothers and their preborn babies is a welcome reality.’”

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Categories: Abortion