Louisiana Judge Criticized for Allowing Unsafe Abortion Business to Stay Open
by Steven Ertelt
September 21, 2010
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — A Louisiana judge who allowed an abortion business to remain open despite a state health department report showing it violating health and safety standards is coming under criticism. District Judge Mike Caldwell granted the injunction against the state health department’s closing the Hope Medical Group for Women.
State health officials suspended the medical license of the Hope abortion facility on September 3 but the judge ruled it could remain open until a lawsuit challenging the law used to close the clinic can be resolved.
They told Caldwell during a hearing that the "suspension in this matter was legal" and "this is about health."
But J.E. Cullens, the lawyer representing Hope Medical Group for Women argued the state was picking a political fight and claimed it "is a safe clinic."
We are disappointed that this abortion facility can remain open while we go through the process of revoking its license, DHH spokeswoman Lisa Faust said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper. We want to assure Louisiana women that we will continue to fight to protect them from unsafe abortion facilities.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman criticized the ruling.
"Yesterday’s ruling degrades women and sends the tragic message that they are not worth protecting from unsafe and predatory abortionists who are clearly operating outside the law. It is nothing less than an outrageous and unjust act of discrimination against women that puts their lives in jeopardy," he said.
Before the hearing, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York pro-abortion law firm, filed suit against the DHH on Monday on behalf of five Louisiana abortion businesses to block enforcement of the new law that allowed for emergency license suspension for medical clinics that were found to be dangerous to the public. That case will be heard by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman.
Hope Medical Group for Women will be allowed to remain open pending the outcome of that suit, which could take years to litigate.
"It is incomprehensible that a judge could be so callous to the health and safety of women that he would allow this dangerous abortion mill to continue to risk their lives, in defiance to the law and the findings of the DHH," said Newman. "We applaud the DHH for working to protect women and appreciate their continued efforts to enforce the law."
Officials revoked the medical license for after an investigation found it had violations posing "significant health and safety risks to clients."
Bruce D. Greenstein, Health Secretary for the State of Louisiana, said, "The findings of the Department’s survey included several egregious safety violations and at least one resulting in immediate jeopardy. The Department’s conclusion was that women visiting this facility would have their health and safety compromised."
Greenstein said he is upset the judge did not seek any input from his department or those who found the violations of state standards.
"So, today, we are very disappointed that the judge would put the special interests of this abortion facility over the health and safety of women. This order was signed without any notification to us and without any effort to hear from medical professionals about the risk to the facility’s clients posed by the violations our inspectors found," he said. "We will continue to fight to protect Louisiana residents and to shut down activities that put women in harm."
Dorinda Bordlee, the vice president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, commented on the lawsuit in a statement to LifeNews.com.
"By tying up this common-sense health regulation in federal court, the Center for Reproductive Rights shows that they are more concerned with profits for their abortion clinic clients than in the health and safety of women who are misled to believe that abortion is their only choice," she said.
The health department said it found the Hope Medical Group for Women abortion center failed to ensure a physician performed a physical exam of the mother prior to the abortion and failed to properly monitor vital signs of patients under anesthesia.
It also did not have proper procedures in place for administering anesthesia and failed to have properly trained medical professionals administering anesthesia and engaging in other medical procedures related to it.
The suspension was the first case of a Louisiana abortion center closed under the legislation, authored by Representative Fred Mills (D-Parks) and strongly supported by Louisiana Right to Life Federation, which was inspired by then DHH Secretary Alan Levine.
The Louisiana health department shut down a New Orleans abortion center in January for putting women’s health at risk.
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