By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
PENSACOLA, November 6, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Last Friday, the 38th day of the autumn 40 Days for Life Campaign, the abortion facility at 6700 North 9th Avenue in Pensacola, Florida posted a 'Closed' sign on its door as pro-lifers prayed and kept vigil outside.
Ernie Cyr, the Pensacola 40 Days for Life coordinator, said the local 40 Days for Life team didn't even realize at the time what they were witnessing - the permanent closure of an abortion facility that had been in operation for more than 25 years.
Cyr explained that law enforcement officers went into the clinic on Friday to serve some legal papers, but no one really knew what was going on.
The following Monday, a simple legal notice appeared in the fine-print section of the local newspaper: "As of October 30th, 2009, The Community Health Center of Pensacola will be terminating its practice."
Further investigation revealed that the facility was licensed as a clinical laboratory for blood testing as well as an abortion clinic. However, an investigation by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) determined that the center's lab license had been expired for 413 days - a violation of state law. A retroactive fine of $1,000 per day was imposed, totaling $413,000.
"In lieu of paying the fine, the Community Health Center decided to shut down," said Tiffany Vause, AHCA press secretary.
Vause also said AHCA lawyers had offered the abortion facility a reduced fine as part of a settlement agreement, but they never received a response.
Ernie Cyr said that although the abortion centre staff refused to talk with TV reporters and no information is available on whether they intend to reopen the abortion center, the legal notice in the newspaper suggests that the closure is permanent.
"It's just a complete joy and what a blessing for our community to have this facility close," Cyr told WEAR-TV.
Bernadette Ensley, a University of West Florida student, and head of UWF's Students for Life group, said, "For this to up and close the last weekend of 40 Days for Life is really shocking and great!"
David Bereit, National Director of 40 Days for Life, commented on this latest abortion facility closure in his daily e-mail to 40 Days supporters.
"This now makes FIVE abortion centers CLOSED - facilities where people came to pray outside for an end to abortion during 40 Days for Life. Praise God indeed, for answering your prayers and the prayers of thousands of others!"
"This fall's campaign has been the most incredibly blessed 40 Days for Life effort yet," Bereit said. "There have been 571 lives spared from abortion that we know of this fall," he said. "There have been eight abortion industry employers who have left their jobs. … It's been a most eventful 40 days."