A Planned Parenthood clinic in Wilmington, Del., has temporarily stopped performing surgical abortions amid investigations looking into allegations that physicians' practices put women's health and lives at risk.
Since Jan. 4, five patients have been rushed to St. Francis Hospital emergency rooms after 911 calls reported medical emergencies at the clinic. Complaints about the clinic prompted an investigation by the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services and the State Board of Professional Licensure.
"Planned Parenthood needs to close its doors," said Jane Mitchell-Werbrich, a nurse who left the clinic because the "meat market style of assembly-line abortions" left blood draining on the operating tables as patients were rushed in and out of the facility.
"It was just unsafe," Werbrich said to WPVI-TV's Wendy Saltzman about the clinic. "I couldn't tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was. He (the doctor) didn't wear gloves; he didn't believe that he needed to wear them."
Joyce Vasikonis, a second nurse who quit working at the abortion clinic for fear that she would be he held liable if a patient was harmed, said doctors were "using instruments on patients that were not sterile." She also said the unclean practices put women at risk of contracting "hepatitis, even AIDS."
In Delaware, abortion clinics are not inspected on a routine basis, and the state only steps in after a patient has filed a complaint. This means that Planned Parenthood has the sole responsibility of inspecting its clinics.
Mary Peterson, director of Delaware's HHS, told the local station that the state simply "doesn't have the manpower to do routine inspections" of abortion clinics. HHS investigators went to the clinic in October 2012 to look into the allegations about unsafe practices, but said they didn't find any evidence of the violations cited by the two nurses.
The state is, however, looking into the five medical emergencies that were reported at the clinic from January through March.
One patient is threatening to sue Planned Parenthood, and claims that she's endured health problems following an abortion procedure at the clinic, according to WPVI-TV.
Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Delaware, released a statement on Wednesday announcing that she's "enacting immediate personnel changes" at the clinic, and even invited a "team of medical experts" from its national office to inspect the facility.
According to Ellen Barosse, founder of the Delaware pro-life group A Rose and A Prayer, the state has the highest abortion rate in the nation and for this reason is dumbfounded as to why the clinics "are not subject to routine inspection."
"'Safe, legal, and rare' has long been the mantra of the abortion industry and its supporters," Barosse said. "It's clear that in Delaware, only legal matters – patient safety is not a concern."
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said that abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood cannot be relied upon to police themselves, and suggested that if they were concerned about women's health, they wouldn't "repeatedly oppose efforts to strengthen health and safety standards in abortion clinics."