North Carolina targets key women’s health clinic

Reproductive-rights proponents protest in North Carolina
Reproductive-rights proponents protest in North Carolina
Associated Press

We’ve been keeping a close eye on new abortion restrictions in North Carolina, where Gov. Pat McCrory (R) ignored a campaign promise and approved a new measure that will likely close 15 of the state’s 16 women’s health clinics. And what about the other one? As of today, it appears to be closing, too.

As controversy brewed over changes to the state’s abortion laws, state health officials moved to close a clinic in Asheville after it failed a licensure inspection.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it has temporarily closed the doors of FemCare, an abortion provider in Asheville.

The release cited “egregious violations of existing rules that revealed an imminent threat to the health and safety of patients.”

At this point, it’s difficult to judge the state’s arguments on the merits without more information. FemCare, a licensed ambulatory surgical center, was reportedly cited with 23 violations, which came as a surprise to the facility’s operators – it cleared an August 2006 inspection and nothing has changed since.

That said, speaking on behalf of the clinic, Dr. Lorraine Cummings said standards have changed since the last inspection and FemCare has been in the process of meeting the updated state guidelines. FemCare has vowed to re-open soon.

Of course, in this case, the significance goes beyond just one medical facility – if FemCare was positioned to be the only clinic in the state that could meet the TRAP law standards, and the state is closing it down, North Carolina women are about to find themselves in an untenable position.

In the meantime, MaddowBlog commenter JulSun76 alerted us to the fact that Dr. Laura Gerald has served as North Carolina’s State Health Director and Director of the Division of Public Health for the last year and a half – that is, until this week. She resigned on Tuesday citing “significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services.” She added, “These differences are making it increasingly impossible to continue to be effective in my current role.”

We’ll have more on this on tonight’s show.

Reproductive Rights and North Carolina

North Carolina targets key women's health clinic