By Dave Andrusko
An agreement reached today between the Northern Illinois Women’s Center in Rockford and the Illinois Department of Public Health means that the abortion clinic, closed since September because of health and safety violations, can reopen after it pays a $9,750 fine, according to the Associated Press (AP). Alternatively, it could decide to remain closed and pay a reduced fine of $1,000, said Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health.
The clinic’s attorney, Harold Hirshman, told the AP that “his clients have resolved matters to the satisfaction of the health department and ‘could open tomorrow’ legally.” However he said he couldn’t discuss his clients’ plans for the facility.
Today’s settlement is the latest twist in the saga of an abortion clinic that has been the subject of pro-life protests for decades.
Last year the Department of Public Health cited the abortion clinic for health and safety violations after a three-day inspection in June. Arnold 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.
When the abortion clinic was re-inspected September 15, most of the violations observed in a June inspection report 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, “like doctors not having surgical privileges with a licensed Illinois hospital and not having a written agreement with a local laboratory to perform certain tests,” according to Corina Curry of the Rockford Register Star.
On September 30, the Department ordered an emergency suspension of the clinic’s license and fined the Northern Illinois Women’s Center $15,000. The Center has been open since 1974.
“Hirshman said doctors now have hospital privileges, the clinic’s nursing staff is adequate and there is an agreement with a certified lab,” according to the AP’s Carla Johnson. “The deal includes a provision that would allow the state to immediately revoke the license of the Northern Illinois Women’s Center in Rockford, without holding a hearing, if any serious violations are repeated.”
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