By Dave Andrusko
The impact of a new Louisiana law was firmly on display yesterday when for the second time this summer, the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) issued a order immediately halting operations at Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women, a New Orleans abortion clinic, for repeated health and safety regulations.
State health regulators were able to move more effectively against the abortion clinic thanks to passage of Act 490 in the 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session that gave DHH the power to immediately close an abortion facility under certain circumstances.
DHH revoked the clinic’s license May 25 after a May 6 investigation found that “the facility failed to provide nursing services to meet the needs of its patients and adequately monitor women in recovery following a procedure.”
Specifically, “the facility failed to provide nursing services to meet the needs of its patients and adequately monitor women in recovery following a procedure,” the DHH reported on its webpage at the time. “The Secretary [Bruce Greenstein] determined that the facility’s non-compliance and violations posed an imminent threat to the health, welfare or safety of the patients. The abortion facility was notified of the revocation action and immediate suspension Wednesday morning.”
The abortion clinic “was under a similar order issued in January 2010 for failing to comply with minimum standards for clinics that provide abortions,” reports Bruce Nolan of the Times-Picayune. “DHH says the January order was being appealed when a subsequent inspection led to the May action.”
During that unannounced January investigation inspectors found that the abortion clinic had no registered nurse on staff, had no controlled dangerous substance license, and had not registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
So how was the abortion clinic still able to operate? That prior investigation took place before passage of Act 490 which meant the Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women could reopen while it contested the action against it in court.
However armed with Act 490’s powerful enforcement tools, Greenstein moved against the clinic. “Under that law, the clinic remains closed during its appeal, unless it files for special relief like a permanent injunction or temporary restraining order, Stephen Russo [executive counsel for the state health department] said,” Nolan reported.
The clinic did not appeal the May order, “so there is no legal recourse” for the clinic to avoid being shut down, according to DHH spokeswoman Lisa Faust.
Channel Six News in New Orleans did a story on the clinic closing and talked to a man who worked two doors down from the clinic who told the station that “he always had concerns.” He said while he had been unable to talk to any of the women coming out of the abortion clinic, “Actions speak louder than words. Seeing their physical conditions, being held up by family members, distraught and crying, I believe more is going on in their than the story that the sign says.” [www.wdsu.com/r-video/28041357/detail.html]
“We are pleased to see that the Gentilly abortion facility has been shut down again,” Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, told NRL News Today. “However, if the court system had not stepped in through a temporary restraining order, this unfortunate place would have been shut down a while ago. The fact that the Gentilly facility did not even attempt an appeal shows they have not been acting in best interest of women and children.”
Clapper added, “We applaud the DHH and encourage them to continue moving with haste to ensure the health and safety of Louisiana women and children is protected.”
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