The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 8th

Durham abortion clinic shuts down

While the state has yet to set the regulations for abortion clinics after a new law signed this summer, at least one abortion clinic in the state has voluntarily shut down for good.

The Durham-based Baker Clinic for Women voluntarily surrendered its license last week just as Asheville’s abortion facility reopened.

Dr. John Baker, who owned the clinic, surrendered the clinic’s certificate to operate six weeks after the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services temporarily revoked its license for failing to meet state abortion clinic standards.

On the same day the Durham facility closed, Femcare, Inc., the state’s only ambulatory surgical abortion clinic, reopened after its suspension late last month.

The Baker Clinic for Women and Femcare were two of the three abortion clinics closed temporarily this year by the DHHS. Kirsti Clifford, spokeswoman for the department, said in an email that the suspensions occurred during routine inspections that take place every three to five years.

Charlotte’s Preferred Women’s Health Center, the first of the three to shut down, reopened earlier this summer.

Though there is a Planned Parenthood health center in Durham, it does not provide abortions. There are currently 16 facilities offering abortion services in the state.

Dr. Lorraine Cummings, owner of Femcare, said in a statement that they are pleased the Asheville clinic’s suspension was lifted quickly.

But after Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill in July that directs the DHHS to update regulations for abortion clinics, women’s health advocates said Femcare could be the only abortion clinic that meets new standards.

The updated regulations have yet to be drafted, Clifford said.

Erin Arizzi, spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said in an email that reproductive rights activists call these kind of regulations TRAP laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Care Providers.

Arizzi said some state governments shut down clinics one by one with regulations that have nothing to do with women’s health and safety but rather exist only because of anti-choice political ideology.

But Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, said in an email that she supports the new legislation because abortion clinics have operated at substandard conditions.

“Women are being subjected to unsafe practices when they choose to have an abortion,” she said. “Common medical practices should not be abandoned on the altar of allowing unfettered access to abortion.”

Still, Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, said in a statement that efforts to interfere with abortion access in the state have been occurring throughout the summer.

“The reality is that when even one clinic has to close its doors, an entire community of women and families loses one of their health care options.”

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