The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it has suspended the license of a medical clinic in Asheville that specializes in abortions.
The DHHS said its inspectors found "egregious violations of
existing rules that revealed an imminent threat to the health and safety of
patients" at the Femcare
"Inspectors from Division of Health Service Regulation found the facility failed to comply with 23 separate rules," Drexdal Pratt, director of DHHS' Division of Health Service Regulation, said in a statement. "We take rule violations very seriously and, when necessary, take firm action to prevent harm to patients and clients in the facilities that we license regulate and inspect."
The move closes the one clinic in the state that Planned Parenthood said would meet new, tougher guidelines signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.
On Monday, McCrory signed a bill significantly tightening rules about clinics that perform abortions. The law says DHHS may apply the standards of an ambulatory surgical center to abortion clinics.
Critics say the regulations will effectively close most of the state's 16 abortion clinics because only one now meets the standards of an outpatient surgical center.
"Our understanding is that the only center that currently meets ambulatory surgical center guidelines is FemCare in Asheville," Melissa Reed, vice president for public affairs of Planned Parenthood Health System, was quoted as saying in the Mountain Xpress news. "None of the Planned Parenthood centers in the state currently meet those guidelines."
An ambulatory surgical center costs about $1 million more to build than an abortion clinic, Pratt told lawmakers earlier this month.
Among the issued cited by the DHHS, the facility:
On Tuesday, the State Health Director resigned, citing policy differences with the new administration but without saying what those specific differences were.