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New Jersey Right to Life Asks NJ Public Advocate to Take Action Regarding Lack of No Show Health Inspections and Abuses at NJ Abortion Clinics

Contact: Marie Tasy, Executive Director, New Jersey Right to Life, 908-276-6620

CRANFORD, New Jersey, July 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- New Jersey Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy sent a letter to New Jersey Public Advocate Ronald Chen yesterday requesting appropriate action be taken regarding the lack of health inspections and abuses at licensed abortion facilities in NJ.

Following up on recent media reports, NJRTL filed an Open Public Records Act Request in April of this year and learned that the NJ Department of Health had not inspected abortion clinics which are licensed by the State of NJ in at least five years despite the Department's own requirement to perform inspections every year.

In the last four months, two of these major abortion clinics have been shut down by the Department of Health, but only after complaints were filed by the public. These include Metropolitan Medical Associates in Englewood, NJ and Alternatives in Atlantic City. After inspecting the clinics, the Department of Health shut them down for conditions "posing immediate and serious risk of harm to patients" citing problems with sterilization procedures and other problems with the facilities themselves.

Metropolitan was shut down on February 24, 2007 after Newark Beth Israel Hospital notified the state that the clinic performed a botched abortion on a 20 year old woman which required a hysterectomy and nearly resulted in the woman's death. Click here. The Record of Hackensack reported that state health officials investigating the clinic found "forceps encrusted in 'brownish blood-like residues,' 'rusty crochet hooks used to remove IUDs' and a quarter inch of dark red 'dirt and debris' under an exam table." Sterilized items were also not stored or handled properly. For example, two plastic open top bins of sterile forceps, speculum and gauze kits were stored directly on the carpeted floor next to the copier in the main office and surgical instruments were found in the same drawer as light bulbs. Metropolitan is one of the largest abortion clinics in the country, performing over 10,000 abortions a year. It performs abortions up to 24 weeks.

Infection control violations were also cited at Alternatives Abortion Clinic in Atlantic City, NJ at the end of June. When state officials entered the clinic for the first time in 6 years, they found the absence of hot water for more than a year and a scrub sink for sterilization, and the absence of a mechanical ventilator and the anti-hypothermia drug Dantrium. According to their website, Alternatives performs abortion through 18 weeks.

The Public Advocate's guiding principle, as noted in the statute establishing its office is to "advocate for those 'unable to effectively advocate for themselves,'" said Marie Tasy. "Ten thousand women have abortions each year at Metropolitan Medical Associates in Englewood. Many of the women who frequent these clinics are Medicaid patients and lack the resources or ability to advocate for themselves. This matter has the potential to reach epidemic proportions with regard to women's health," wrote Tasy.

Tasy also noted that the Department has the authority to take legal action against state agencies which may be neglecting their duties and placing the lives of our citizens at risk. In the letter to the Public Advocate, NJRTL asked the Public Advocate to "take appropriate and swift legal action to ensure these abuses are rectified at the Department of Health and all New Jersey abortion clinics as well as implement an outreach program to locate and assist any women who may have experienced complications, infections or sexually transmitted diseases through the use of unsterilized instruments and unsanitary conditions from any of these clinics."

In addition, NJRTL suggested that the Health Care Facilities Planning Act (N.J.S.A. 26:2H-1) be amended to reverse a 1983 decision which exempted so-called doctor's offices that perform huge volumes of abortions before 14 weeks LMP from the rules that normally govern abortion clinics and other health care facilities.

"It is inexcusable that there is no requirement that facilities that perform abortions before 14 weeks LMP be inspected by the Department of Health. It is even more shocking and intolerable that clinics that perform abortions through the 24th week of pregnancy and are licensed by the state are not inspected. This is bad public policy that creates a double standard with regard to abortion, to the obvious detriment of women's health," said Tasy. "The silence from lawmakers and advocates of 'safe and legal abortion' has been deafening," said Tasy.