Kirsten Andersen


Inspections find notorious Texas abortion chain running filthy clinics, despite new safety standards

Kirsten Andersen

AUSTIN, TX, October 30, 2013 ( – New, stricter abortion clinic safety standards passed by the Texas legislature have done nothing to change the way the state’s most notoriously unsanitary abortion chain does business.

Whole Woman's Health, a chain of abortion centers spanning five cities in Texas, has been cited dozens of times over the past three years for health and safety violations, including unsterilized abortion instruments, unqualified staff, rusty suction machines, and expired and unlabeled medications.

During the most recent round of inspections, performed between August and October investigators found dangerous conditions at three of the company’s five locations.  Those inspections took place after the passage of Texas’s new safety guidelines, which require abortion centers to adhere to the same health standards as other outpatient surgical centers.

The findings have been released at the same time as Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller has been at the forefront of those fighting upgraded safety standards for abortion facilities like hers. 

Along with Planned Parenthood, Hagstrom Miller sued to overturn the new regulations, complaining that three of her five clinics would have to close if the law is allowed to stand, due to their inability to meet the tougher standards.  She argued the stricter guidelines were unnecessary, telling the Texas Tribune, “there is no safety problem around abortion in Texas.” 

However, at Miller’s Beaumont location, state health inspectors reported, “the facility failed to provide a safe environment for patients and staff [or] safe and sanitary equipment in the patients’ procedure rooms.”

According to investigators, suction machines being used on patients had “numerous rusty spots” which they deemed likely to cause infections.  Additionally, the inspectors wrote, “The cables to the defibrillator were not connected. The Administrator was observed trying to replace the recording paper in the defibrillator, but was unable to feed the paper correctly into the machine. In an emergency situation this has the likelihood to cause harm to the patient.”

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“[O]bservation in the pathology room under the sink revealed a large hole in the cabinet flooring,” reported health inspectors. “The hole was approximately 6 inches in diameter and the wood was splintered around the edges. The facility was storing sterilization solutions for cleaning instruments around the hole in the floor.”

Added inspectors, “The hole in the flooring had the likelihood to allow rodents to enter the facility and the splintered wood edges could puncture the sterilization solutions.”

Other violations observed at the Beamont location included unsafe administration of medication, poor or nonexistent patient follow-up, and at least one possible illegal late-term abortion.

In both McAllen and San Antonio, investigators found that the facilities had failed to address violations cited by the health department the previous year.   “No evidence of compliance was provided where noncompliance was identified,” the inspectors wrote. 

Additionally, in McAllen, “two out of seven staff members had expired cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification,” and “personnel at facility were not following proper sterilization procedures,” according to investigators.

The San Antonio facility took a particularly lax approach to cleanliness, according to inspectors.  Not only were employees observed failing to follow proper guidelines for equipment sterilization, no evidence could be found that they had ever been provided training in how to do so in the first place.

"Whole Woman's Health and Planned Parenthood want the public to believe that abortion facilities are safe for women,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “A rusty suction machine, faulty sterilizing fluid, a faulty sterilization machine, holes in the floor exposing the facility to rodents, expired and unlabeled medication, and absent or poorly trained nursing staff contradict the abortion industry's rhetoric.”

Added Pojman, “No woman should be exposed to such horrendous conditions. Women deserve better.”

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled partially in the abortionists’ favor, striking down two key provisions of the abortion safety law – one requiring doctors who perform abortions to maintain admitting privileges at local hospitals, which the judge called an “undue obstacle” to women seeking abortions, and another rule requiring abortionists to obey the FDA’s guidelines for abortion drugs. Abortionists often ignore these guidelines in order to prescribe the pills to women who are further along than the 7 weeks the health agency recommends as an upper limit. 

Following the ruling, Lila Rose of pro-life group Live Action called the judge, Lee Yeakel, an “activist.”

“Planned Parenthood prefers an abortion Wild West, where they can act with impunity and rake in extra cash by treating women like cattle in a meat market,” Rose said. “It's time for judges like Lee Yeakel to stop protecting the abortion industry's bottom line and remember what really counts: the safety of mothers and their babies.”

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