Florida suspends abortion clinic after hospitalizations

The Florida health agency said the abortion clinic's problems stemmed from operational deficiencies

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An abortion clinic that serves women from all over the U.S. South had its license suspended this weekend under an emergency order from Florida health officials after two women who had undergone procedures at the clinic were hospitalized this year.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration ordered the suspension of the license for American Family Planning of Pensacola, effective starting Saturday.

In cases cited by the agency, the clinic failed to monitor the patients at all times, didn't provide medical records when patients were transferred for greater care and didn't contact the patients within 24 hours after they left the clinic to assess their recovery, said the order which was issued on Friday.

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It said the problems were operational deficiencies "endangering the health, safety and welfare" of the clinic's patients, and the clinic failed to submit timely reports about the incidents to the state agency.

In one case, clinic workers urged the husband of a patient to take her to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, rather than a closer hospital in Pensacola that had a transfer agreement with the clinic, delaying her treatment. At the Alabama hospital, the woman needed to be resuscitated and required a transfusion to replace blood loss, according to the emergency order.

Security fencing is in place outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, May 14, 2022, ahead of expected abortion right rallies later in the day. 

Security fencing is in place outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Saturday, May 14, 2022, ahead of expected abortion right rallies later in the day.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In another case from March, a patient was taken to the emergency room of a Pensacola hospital with bleeding and low blood pressure. She needed emergency surgery and a surgeon performed a hysterectomy. Last year, a third patient required a uterine perforation repair, according to the emergency order.

"Women receiving abortions must receive the level of care and services mandated by law," the emergency order said.

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The clinic is entitled to a hearing about the decision.

A woman who says she works for the clinic's scheduling service answered its phone on Sunday but said nobody was there who could talk about the emergency order.

Because of its historically less restrictive laws, Florida has long been considered a "safe haven" for women from neighboring states wanting to get abortions. On its website, the clinic says it serves women from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

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Even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month legislation that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, Florida's abortion law is still likely to be less restrictive than those of neighboring states should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.