By Peter J. Smith

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana, September 7, 2010 ( – The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has invoked its authority under a new law to suspend the operations of an abortion facility after an investigation showed that it was endangering women’s lives by giving them substandard care.

According to the Shreveport Times, the DHH revoked the operating license of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, after agents found the abortion facility’s staff failed to provide women a physical examination prior to abortions, or follow necessary protocols for the administration of anesthesia and monitoring their clients’ vital signs.

“These are some of the most basic medical practices they were excluding,” said Anthony Keck interim secretary for the Louisiana DHH, according to the Times.

The Times reports that the abortion facility is the first that has been shut down under a new Louisiana state law that empowers the Department of Health and Hospitals to shut down the operation of an abortion facility if a DHH investigation rules that the facility is violating the law and poses “an immediate threat to the health and safety of a patient or client.”

Under the law, if the licensed owner of the facility in violation loses his operating license, then all abortion facilities licensed under that owner would also have to cease their operations.

The law brought outpatient abortion clinics into compliance with Louisiana’s regulations that already apply to hospitals.

According to the Times, DHH investigators performed an unannounced annual survey Aug. 11-13 from the DHH’s Health Standards division, reviewing the procedures of 14 abortions. Keck told the Times that the Hope Medical Group’s violations “were so egregious and so consistent that we felt it was necessary to order them to cease and desist immediately.”

In the cases reviewed, no physicals were given before anesthetizing patients, which is necessary to prevent devastating health reactions to anesthesia, and the abortion centre failed to have a trained professional monitor their clients respiratory, cardiovascular, and consciousness levels after the administration of intravenous and gaseous anesthesia.

The abortion clinic has thirty days to file an appeal of the DHH’s decision. Before the law was enacted, abortion facilities could still carry on operations while the appeals process was fought out.

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