North Carolina Closes Three Abortion Clinics in Three Months

by Sterling Beard

North Carolina has closed three abortion clinics in as many months due to violations of the state’s health and safety regulations, the Charlotte Observer reports.

That number exceeds the total number of suspensions handed out by the state to abortion clinics in the past 14 years (one clinic was closed in 1999 and another in 2007). The Observer notes that state documents indicate that there have not been more inspections than usual this year, signaling that inspectors may be taking a tougher approach to enforcement.

Registered nurses inspect the state’s 16 clinics on behalf of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Clinics have been written up for “deficiencies” such as poor record-keeping and “more serious violations.” The recently closed clinics, located in Achesville, Charlotte, and Durham, were closed for problems that had not led to suspensions in the past, though the DHHS says the “current deficiencies posed imminent threats.”

The Observer reviewed inspection reports and found that most clinics are written up for gaps in protocol and record-keeping errors. However, there have been more serious violations, such as “using a single-dose vial of a narcotic for multiple patients” or “allowing a medical office assistant instead of a doctor to examine biological material after the procedure.”

The clinic located in Charlotte, which had its license revoked in May, had staffers orally administering a liquid drug used to induce abortions; it is meant to be injected or ingested in pill form.

The third clinic closed, Femcare in Asheville, N.C., was cited for “egregious violations” including “torn anesthesia masks, a dirty operating room floor and unchecked emergency equipment.” Last inspected in 2006, it was the only clinic in the state that was licensed as an outpatient surgery center; its abortion license was suspended on Wednesday for failing to meet that standard.

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