Health Department Closes New Orleans, Louisiana Abortion Biz

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2011   |   1:08PM   |   New Orleans, LA

The Louisiana health department, using a 2010 law that gives it more authority to close abortion centers that violate state health and safety standards, has closed the Gentilly Medical Group for Women abortion facility in New Orleans.

The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has issued a notice of license revocation to the “Gentilly Medical Group for Women”, an abortion facility near the corner of Gentilly Blvd and Elysian Fields Ave in New Orleans. According to Louisiana Right to Life, the order requires the facility to immediately cease operations.

The revocation follows the passage of Act 490 in the 2010 Louisiana legislative session giving DHH the power to immediately close an abortion facility under certain circumstances. Before the passage of the law, DHH revoked the license of the Gentilly abortion facility in January of 2010 due to various problems but the revocation order remained under appeal since that time.

DHH Secretary Alan Levine indicated last January that the Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women abortion center operated without a trained nurse on staff, without a site-specific Louisiana controlled dangerous substance license, and without a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration controlled substance registration. All three are required for an abortion center in Louisiana to be run with proper approval from the state health department.

“Louisiana law is very clear on the requirements to maintain a safe medical environment for women seeking abortion services,” said Levine, according to WWLT.

“We have a duty to ensure women have safe choices for the services they are legally entitled to,” he continued. “This clinic has been in clear violation of our state’s health standards and we cannot allow Louisiana citizens to get inadequate or unsafe care.”

Benjamin Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, applauded the decision in a statement to LifeNews.

“In an era where abortion unfortunately remains legal due to the Supreme Court’s erroneous decisions, we must do all we can to protect the lives of women and unborn children from the travesty of abortion,” he said. “The implementation of Act 490 is one important way to ensure that abortion facilities are in compliance with the many pro-life laws passed by the Louisiana legislature.”

“We thank Secretary Greenstein and the DHH for their continued work to ensure that women are protected,” Clapper added. “We hope that this revocation will mean the end of the notorious Gentilly abortion facility. If a restraining order is sought by the Gentilly facility, we ask that no judge come between the responsibilities of our government and the health and safety of our citizens.”

Ifeanyi Charles Anthony Okpalobi runs the abortion business and he has operated an abortion center either in New Orleans or the suburb of Metairie for approximately the last 15 years.

Clapper said this is the second time the state health department has used the new law to close an abortion center that is putting women’s health at risk.

On September 3rd, 2010, DHH utilized Act 490 for the first time to revoke the license of “Hope Medical Group for Women” in Shreveport. However, a temporary restraining order was issued by a District Judge Michael Caldwell in Baton Rouge on September 14, 2010 and the “Hope” abortion business remains open pending the appeal.

Dorinda Bordlee, a pro-life attorney in Louisiana who is intimately involved in state legislative matters for the Bioethics Defense Fund, previously talked with LifeNews about the lawsuit.

“The Louisiana Department of Health asked the legislature to strengthen the abortion clinic regulation law to protect women’s health against dangerous practices such as prescribing narcotics without a license, or operating under unsanitary conditions,” Bordlee explained. “It is not surprising that abortionists would not want to be regulated under the same strict standards as every other ambulatory surgical care center.”

Bordlee also explained the rationale behind the new lawsuit.

“In their Motion to Dismiss, the State pointed out that in addition to several other legal issues that will likely result in the dismissal of this baseless challenge, the lawyers for the abortionists had filed the suit in the wrong venue,” she added. “So the newly filed suit is simply the old challenge re-filed in the Middle District of Louisiana.”

About the problems at Hope, Bruce D. Greenstein, secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, 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.”

State Judge District Judge R. Michael Caldwell ruled the abortion business can reopen for business even though it has not fixed the problems that made it a danger to the public.

Greenstein said he is upset the judge did not seek any input from his department or those who found the violations of state standards.

“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.”

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.