November 28, 2011 (Rockford, Illinois) This morning the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) delivered an early Christmas present for many unborn infants in Northern Illinois, when an Administrative Law Judge ruled that the suspension of the license of Rockford, Illinois’ notorious abortion provider, the Northern Illinois Women’s Center (NIWC), would be extended for just over another month, until January 4, 2012, when a formal public hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the Michael Bilandic State of Illinois Building, at 160 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois, Room N502, on the 5th Floor. The Judge announced her ruling during a teleconference this morning at 11:00 a.m., when IDPH prosecuting attorney, Eva Bylerly, Esq., advised the Judge that “two to three issues remained unresolved” during ongoing settlement negotiations she had been pursuing with Harold Hirshman, Esq., lawyer for NIWC, over a series of charges that IDPH had brought against NIWC in the wake of a series of public health inspections, which NIWC failed, triggering the suspension of its license several months ago.
Last week, attorney Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Society, wrote a lengthy letter to Ms. Byerly, expressing grave worries about a possible premature reopening of the NIWC on the part of its clients, concerned citizens residing in the Greater Rockford area, including the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative and also a Registered Nurse who had been instrumental in persuading the public health authorities finally to conduct a series of inspections of the NIWC abortion facility after a protracted period — indeed, it was no less than fourteen (14) years! — during which no inspections at all had taken place. The Society’s letter pointed out that IDPH’s long overdue inspections had uncovered a laundry list of “egregious health and safety violations,” which the letter then detailed. A copy of that letter, with several of its attachments, may be viewed here.
Among these cited violations, of which “many members of the public remain unaware,” were the following:
• “3 of 3 operating rooms inspected failed to ensure a sanitary environment”
• Failure to prevent contamination of clean surgical equipment;
• Gynecological cannulas (surgical instruments inserted during abortion procedures) were stained with a “brown substance”;
• Shoes were stored inside an open box of surgical gloves;
• Operating room #1 contained a box of opened surgical gloves stained with a dried “brown substance”;
• Autoclave equipment used to sterilize medical instruments failed biological testing on at least two occasions; such equipment should have been tested weekly but was untested for four months and then failed, leaving an undetermined number of patients exposed to unsterile surgical instruments;
• Failure to meet legal requirement for a qualified Registered Nurse to be present in the operating room during procedures, leaving unqualified and unlicensed personnel to do tasks reserved by law for licensed, qualified professional personnel;
• Failure to keep records as to persons accompanying patients, suggesting that women were left to care for themselves after surgery;
• Repeated deficiencies in record keeping;
• Failure of abortionists to have local admitting privileges, putting patients in life-threatening situations at risk of serious injury or death.
These and other deficiencies had been brushed off by NIWC in its written filings in the administrative proceeding. NIWC’s lawyers (who also represent Planned Parenthood in other cases in which Thomas More Society is participating) even made the outrageous claim that its patients are “safe” despite its failure to abide by this legal requirement — as if it were somehow “above the law.” The Society’s letter put the lie to that claim, citing a New York Times feature article, “The New Abortionists,” from July 14, 2010 (copy attached to the TMS letter – link) in which the “new” and featured lady abortionist, Dr. Godfrey, recounts a snowy day in 2007 when she had a patient with serious complications who needed to go to the hospital but was rebuffed when the doctor on call said, “How dare you come here!” Thus this otherwise laudatory article in the nation’s supposed “newspaper of record” utterly contradicts and refutes the NIWC claim that it is “safe” despite failures to meet legal requirements!