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Abortion clinics close in 2 states

WASHINGTON (BP)–Abortion clinics in two states have closed, according to media reports.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey has shut down its Cherry Hill family planning clinic in a dispute over state funding, while a Maryland abortion clinic is closing after its operator’s medical license was suspended.

In New Jersey, Democrats in the state Senate failed to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would have restored $7.5 million to family planning clinics, according to the Associated Press.

Christie, a Republican who was elected last year, faced a projected deficit of nearly $11 billion when he took office. In his first budget, he proposed the elimination of all funds for the state’s family planning program. As a result, state money through the program will not go to Planned Parenthood, which operates family planning clinics. The Cherry Hill clinic closed Sept. 21.

In Maryland, staff members at Gynecare Center in Severna Park acknowledged Sept. 23 that the facility was shutting down, according to LifeSiteNews.com. Pro-life advocates said they are uncertain if the clinic is permanently closed or if it will reopen if its embattled operator, Romeo Ferrer, 69, finds another doctor to perform abortions.

The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended Ferrer’s medical license Sept. 8 as a result of his failure to care properly for a 21-year-old woman who died after he performed an abortion on her in 2006. She was 16 weeks pregnant. The board found that Ferrer gave her too much anesthesia and failed to monitor her condition according to his own policy.

In other news related to the abortion issue:

— Abortion doctor George Shepard Jr., 88, has lost his medical license in a second state.

The Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline suspended the license of George Shepard Jr., on Oct. 1, according to The Wilmington (Del.) News Journal. The Maryland Board of Physicians had suspended Shepard’s license in its state, it was reported Sept. 3.

The Maryland board charged Shepard with unprofessional conduct and with aiding abortion clinic operator Steve Brigham in defying credentialing mandates. Shepard serves as part-time medical director of Brigham’s Maryland clinics. Delaware officials began investigating Shepard after Maryland took action, The News Journal reported.

The president of Delaware’s Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, Raymond Moore Sr., stated, “It is important that Delaware take action in conjunction with Maryland to ensure Dr. Shepard does not subject Delawareans to unsafe practices.”

— Abortion clinics in Texas must be licensed to dispense the abortion drug RU 486 and may not use prerecorded telephone messages to fulfill the state’s informed consent law, Attorney General Greg Abbott has ruled.

Responding to a request from State Rep. Frank Corte, R.-San Antonio, Abbott issued two written opinions Sept. 24 that pro-life advocates hailed as victories in protecting the safety of pregnant women.

Regarding the use of an abortion drug, such as RU 486, the attorney general said Texas law requires licensure of abortion facilities and the prescription or provision of a drug to terminate a pregnancy “may be an abortion” under state law.

Abbott acknowledged the text of the informed consent law is unclear but said “it is more likely than not that a court would construe the phrase ‘orally by telephone or in person’ to mean that an abortion facility may not use either a prerecorded telephone message or a one way conference call” to provide the necessary information 24 hours before an abortion. The information includes the medical risks of abortion.

Joe Pojman, Texas Alliance for Life’s executive director, said his organization is “pleased with these two opinions because they are major victories in the struggle to require Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to protect the health of women. Attorney General Abbott has confirmed what common sense already tells us.”
Adapted from reporting by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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