NC agency suspends license of abortion clinic

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An Asheville abortion clinic had its license suspended by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday over what the agency called violations of existing rules.

A statement issued by the department said the violations discovered by inspectors revealed a threat to the health and safety of patients.

The suspension comes two days after Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law legislation that would let DHHS require that abortion clinics meet the standards of an outpatient surgical center. The latest action by DHHS was based on its current authority under existing law.

FEMCARE officials couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. Calls placed to officials of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina weren’t immediately returned Wednesday evening.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Wednesday that DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz identified FEMCARE as the state’s only provider of surgical abortions that meets the standards of an outpatient surgical center.

DHHS director of health service regulation Drexdal Pratt said inspectors found FEMCARE Inc., failed to comply with 23 separate rules. Among the violations, the agency said FEMCARE failed to maintain anesthesia delivery systems in good working condition, with torn masks and tubing held together with tape. The inspection further revealed that the clinic didn’t have an agreement or contract with an anesthetist or anesthesiologist.

Inspectors also found the clinic failed to ensure emergency equipment had weekly checks to ensure the equipment was suitable for use in patient care and failed to ensure that emergency medicine wasn’t expired.

In May, DHHS suspended the license of a Charlotte clinic after determining that staffers were improperly administering a drug to induce abortions. A Preferred Woman’s Health Center reopened May 15 after the department lifted its suspension based on a plan from the clinic to end inappropriate use of the medication.

State officials ordered The Baker Clinic for Women in Durham abortion to close its doors in early July, saying it failed to perform quality control testing on 108 patients who received Rhesus testing. The clinic had 60 days to appeal the suspension.

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