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LIFE DIGEST: Closings of abortion clinics continue; …

WASHINGTON (BP)–A summer of judgment for abortion clinics continues as operations at six more abortion clinics were shut down recently in Alabama and Florida, maintaining a pattern that began developing in mid-June.

The Alabama Department of Health announced Aug. 15 the suspension of the license of Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery for failing to have a backup physician in case one is needed after an abortion, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration ordered abortions halted at five clinics by Aug. 16 and suspended the medical license of their owner, James Pendergraft, on charges he had performed illegal, third-trimester abortions, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The state stopped abortions indefinitely at two Orlando clinics owned by Pendergraft. It is expected to lift the restrictions on his clinics in Fort Lauderdale, Ocala and Tampa the week of Aug. 21-25, the Sentinel reported.

The actions followed abortion clinic closings earlier this summer in Hialeah, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; Wichita, Kan., and Omaha, Neb.

The closings continue a trend for abortion providers during the last two decades. The number of abortion providers in the United States has decreased by 37 percent since 1982, according to a 2003 report published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. That same study showed 87 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider.

The Montgomery, Ala., clinic will be able to respond to the suspension in a Sept. 18 hearing, according to the Advertiser.

Alabama state health officer Don Williamson said the failure to have a second doctor to care for post-abortive women was “a very, very serious violation,” the newspaper reported.

The closings of two clinics have prompted Alabama to begin inspecting abortion providers at least once a year, Williamson said.

“Abortion clinics haven’t been a priority because there isn’t a federal law that requires frequent inspections,” he said, according to the Advertiser. “But now we’re going to put them at a high priority, equivalent to nursing homes.”

John Giles, president of Christian Coalition of Alabama, said in a written release the state’s action “confirms that the abortion industry is only interested in profits and not the healthcare of women before or after an abortion. In fact, women leave abortion facilities all over this state and report the buildings look as if they are furnished from a second hand store and resemble a third world medical facility.”

The A GYN Diagnostic Center in Hialeah, Fla., surrendered its license to the state government after police found the body of a dead baby in a biohazard bag at the facility.

The action came during an investigation into whether a baby was born but allowed to die after a failed abortion July 20. An 18-year-old woman told police she gave birth to a boy at the clinic, according to The Miami Herald. An anonymous phone caller told the police a baby had been born at the clinic, but authorities were unable to find a child when they arrived, according to Channel 4, the CBS affiliate in Miami. Another call prompted the police to return nine days later to the clinic, where they found the body, Channel 4 reported.

An autopsy was performed on the dead child — who weighed about two to three pounds and was about 12 inches long — July 29, but the results are still not available, The Herald reported. Police ordered the clinic closed the same day while the investigation went on.

Siomara Senises, the Hialeah clinic’s owner, voluntarily gave up her operating license, according to World magazine. She surrendered her license to run a Miramar, Fla., abortion clinic in 2004 after it was disclosed she had permitted unlicensed workers, including a janitor and medical student, to do abortions, World reported.

Other clinics that either were closed or surrendered their licenses were:

— Women’s Services P.C. in Omaha, Neb., June 30;

— Central Women’s Services in Wichita, Kan., June 29;

— Summit Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala., June 14.

BOTH SIDES NOW — The Food and Drug Administration has consulted with both pro-life and abortion rights advocates before it announces a decision on over-the-counter sale of the “morning-after” pill.

The FDA had announced July 31 it was working with Duramed, a subsidiary of Barr Pharmaceuticals, toward potential approval of Plan B on a non-prescription basis for women 18 years of age and older. Barr, however, signaled Aug. 9 it is uncertain if it will accept the federal government’s proposal for sale of the drug, which has abortion-causing qualities.

The government agency, meanwhile, has contacted Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the country’s leading abortion clinic operator, and some pro-life organizations for input before its final decision, according to a LifeNews.com report based on an Associated Press article.

Among the pro-lifers contacted by the FDA was Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America’s president.

“I gave them an earful,” Wright told AP, according to LifeNews. “It is very late in the game, and that adds to our fury over this.”

CWA previously had expressed to the FDA its opposition to approving Plan B for non-prescription sales. In response to contentions the “morning-after” pill would reduce abortions, Wright had pointed to increases in the number of abortions in England and Scotland despite non-prescription sale of the drug, according to LifeNews.

The FDA cannot be trusted to guard women’s health, since it has maintained approval of the abortion drug RU 486, Wright said.

“Even after the deaths of numerous women, the FDA has not enforced its restrictions,” she has said, LifeNews reported. “Barr Pharmaceuticals has no incentive to reduce its sales and no means to penalize violators. Easy access to the morning-after pill would be harmful to women and girls.”

Plan B, as well as another “morning-after” pill known as Preven, is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. Under the regimen, a woman takes two pills within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and another dose 12 hours later. The “morning-after” pill works to restrict ovulation in a woman. It also can act after conception, causing an abortion by blocking implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall.

SAVE THE GIRLS — India’s prime minister has appealed for parents in his country to halt the practice of aborting babies because they are females.

Manmohan Singh made his call for protecting unborn girls on India’s 59th Independence Day, saying, “We must end the crime of female foeticide [feticide]. We must eliminate gender disparity. We have a dream of an India in which every woman can feel safe, secure and empowered, where our mothers, sisters and daughters are assured a life of dignity and personal security.”

Singh’s speech to the country, reported by the Agence France-Presse news service, took place Aug. 15, four days after the discovery of 25 bodies of unborn girls in Punjab, a state in northern India.

India’s government enacted a law against sex-selection abortions 12 years ago, but a multi-million dollar black market in the practice continues, according to news reports. It has been estimated 10 million unborn girls may have been aborted in the last 20 years in India.

Because of the cultural preference for boys, the ratio in India of female to male births has declined markedly. Punjab has the most disparity, with 798 girls to every 1,000 boys under the age of 6, according to AFP. Nationwide, the average is 927 females to 1,000 males, the news service reported