Christine Dhanagom

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Illinois abortion clinic crackdown in response to ‘House of Horrors’ closes two facilities

Christine Dhanagom
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SPRINGFIELD, January 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Documents uncovered by the Associated Press reveal that the recent closure of the notorious abortion clinic in Rockford was the result of a long overdue investigation of Illinois abortion facilities, prompted by revelations of the conditions found at abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors” clinic in Philadelphia. 

According to the AP, in recent years abortion clinics in Illinois have had little more oversight than in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Gov. Tom Ridge’s administration had stopped abortion clinics inspections in 1995. The news service reported that several clinics in Illinois had gone without oversight for as many as 15 years.

Karen Senger, a representative with the Illinois Department of Public Health told the AP that the Gosnell case gave the Department “focus” and motivation to inspect the state’s abortion facilities.

Investigators who raided the Gosnell facility had found that the abortion equipment was broken, dirty, and rusty; downstairs, the dismembered remains of newborn and nearly-born children were stuffed into jars, bags, milk jugs, and cat food containers. Others shared space in a refrigerator-freezer with employees’ lunches. Investigators also discovered that Gosnell and his accomplices routinely snipped the spinal chords of newborn babies born after failed late-term abortions: something that one employee said happened “hundreds” of times.

In the wake of the discovery of Gosnell’s clinic, Pennsylvania state enforcement agencies came under intense scrutiny. The Grand Jury report released in January of last year that exposed the horrific conditions at Gosnell’s clinic had issued scathing indictments of both the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of State for turning a blind eye to the clinic. The report said the government agencies had allowed the clinic to wallow in filth for years, and ignored several complaints lodged against the abortionist, while allowing his official record to remain clean.

Now the Illinois Department of Public Health has launched an inspection of nine Illinois facilities that provide abortions. The Department was reportedly so alarmed by the unsafe and unsanitary conditions uncovered at two of them that they issued emergency license suspensions for both.

One of the suspended clinics, the Woman’s Aid Clinic in Lincolnwood, was cited for dirty equipment, lack of a supervising registered nurse, failure to perform CPR on a patient who later died, and keeping TV dinners in a biohazard refrigerator next to “fetal tissue.”

Clinic co-owner Larissa Rowansky called the inspection “unfair,” claiming that the deceased patient had bronchial pneumonia and had lied to the clinic about her condition, and that she did not need CPR because she was still conscious when rescue workers arrived.

The Clinic received a $36,000 fine for the violations, but opted to close permanently rather than pay the fine.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported last week, the Northern Illinois Women’s Center in Rockford will also remain closed after being cited for numerous violations, including stained equipment, unsanitary operating rooms, and failure to keep a registered nurse on staff.

While the Rockford clinic managed to negotiate a much smaller fine of $9,750, it was unable to remain open due to an inability to hire staff and opposition from the local community. 

The clinic has been a focus for pro-life activists in Rockford, who report that they have endured both verbal and physical abuse from clinic staff while peacefully demonstrating out front.

According to Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, the inspection, which looked only at facilities whose exclusive “service” is abortions, did not go far enough. In comments to the AP, Scheidler called for all abortion providers in the state to be brought under a “regulation regime.”

Planned Parenthood clinics, which do not focus exclusively on abortions, are neither licensed nor inspected in Illinois, according to the AP.

Health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold told the news service that the department’s goal was to bring regulation of all “licensed health care facilities” to the same level as “long-term care facilities.” She explained that that this would mean that “a survey is done at each facility every year and whenever we receive a valid complaint.”

Arnold also said that a lack of funding is preventing the state from expanding the scope of the inspection, since they are unable to hire additional inspectors.



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