New Jersey Public Advocate Won’t Sue State Over Abortion Center Probes

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 12, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Jersey Public Advocate Won’t Sue State Over Abortion Center Probes Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 12,

Trenton, NJ ( — The office of the New Jersey Public Advocate has said it won’t file a lawsuit against the state health department for not following state law and investigating abortion businesses there in a timely manner. A state pro-life group had asked the office in July to consider a lawsuit.

Marie Tasy, the director of New Jersey Right to Life, sent a letter July 19 to Public Advocate Ronald Chen, who legally can sue governmental entities over various problems.

She wanted Chen to hold the state health department accountable for failing to inspect abortion centers — a failure that led to the closing of three centers in the state over various health and safety violations inspections could have found earlier.

But the Press of Atlantic City reports that Chen’s office said it wouldn’t sue but would continue to monitor the situation.

"To ensure that the state continues to move toward a system of timely inspections, we will continue to monitor the situation with (the department) regarding its progress toward compliance," a letter from Chen reads.

That’s not going over will with Tasy and her group.

"This is very disappointing," Tasy told the newspaper. "It’s certainly not, I feel, an adequate response."

She hopes that United States Attorney Christopher Christie will respond to another letter she sent asking him to help hold the state health department accountable as well.

State health inspectors recently closed an Atlantic City abortion business that has been found to have multiple health code violations.

The problems at the Alternatives abortion center were so profound that state officials could not let it stay open.

Earlier this year, state officials closed the Metropolitan Medical Associates abortion business in Englewood after a botched abortion went so badly that a young woman nearly died as a result.

Despite a state requirement that abortion centers be probed every other year, health officials inspected just one abortion business in the past two years before these recent probes. Only one of the six abortion centers in the state has been inspected every other year as health statutes require.

State health department spokesman Tom Slater has said the problem is related to a lack of health inspectors for all health facilities and he said only 17 percent of all medical clinics are inspected every two years, as state law requires.

He said there are 1,003 medical centers in the state and just 117 health inspectors.

"There has been a nationwide attrition in the health work force," Slater told the Atlantic City paper. "The Baby Boomers are retiring. Those are the type of people that took public jobs. And we are competing with the private sector."

But pro-life advocates say that the politicized nature of abortion is keeping state officials from making the inspection of abortion centers a priority.

"I think it’s been a long-standing position of the state that abortion is the great untouchable of law and politics," Tasy said previously.

Looking at the probe of he Alternatives abortion center in Atlantic City, officials found that the abortion center had problems with infection control issues, poor documentation and recordkeeping and problems with the facility itself.

Also, state health officials closed the Metropolitan Medical Associates abortion business in Englewood after Newark Beth Israel Medical center filed a complaint reporting that a 20-year-old woman nearly died from a botched abortion there.

The abortion center failed a followup inspection two weeks later and authorities released information to a local newspaper recently on the shoddy conditions there.

Papers from the state obtained by the Bergen Record newspaper indicated that health authorities inspected the abortion center every year from 1990 to 1996 but did not show up again for an inspection until 2000 and then once again in 2002. There were no inspections after that.

In their review, health inspectors found dirt and debris throughout the abortion facility, open packages of items that were supposed to remain sterilized before their use, and other problems.