State agency suspends Pensacola abortion clinic after hospitalizations
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 underwent procedures at the clinic were hospitalized this year.
The agency cited two cases, saying 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.
In the order issued Friday, the agency said these operational deficiencies “endangering the health, safety and welfare” of the clinic’s patients. The clinic also failed to submit timely reports about the incidents to the state agency, it said.
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.
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.
The clinic is entitled to a hearing about the decision.
A woman who said she works for the clinic’s scheduling service answered the phone on Sunday but said nobody was there who could talk about the emergency order. This morning, the answering service said the clinic was closed today but would be open tomorrow for follow-up appointments. On the door of the clinic, a sign reads "Closed until further notice."
Last year, the clinic was at the center of debate between anti-abortion protestors and abortion rights advocates for months. Advocates raised thousands of dollars to build a fence around the clinic. And businesses on the street signed trespass warnings to keep protestors at bay.
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.
Even though 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.
WUWF's Jennie McKeon contributed to this report.