Nearly 2 in 3 Illinois Abortion Clinics Had No Health Inspections for Years; Dirty Surgical Tools, Operating Rooms Go Unstopped

Pro-life and pro-choice supporters rally outside an abortion clinic in Oak Park, Illinois on June 26th, 2013.
Pro-life and pro-choice supporters rally outside an abortion clinic in Oak Park, Illinois on June 26th, 2013. | (Photo: YouTube Screenshot / Mad Man Mikey)

Nearly two-thirds of all licensed abortion facilities in Illinois have not been inspected by the state's Department of Public Health in two to three-and-a-half years, while some haven't been inspected for over a decade, according to a new report.

The 66-page study report, released by Illinois Right to Life, says that 63 percent of licensed Illinois women's clinics have not received a health and sanitary inspection for up to three-and-a-half-years.

"The failure of the Department of Public Health to conduct regular health and sanitary inspections leaves women open to the prospect of unsterile surgical tools, dirty operating rooms, incomplete medical attention, infections, and possibly more deaths," the group says.

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When the group requested a copy of the sanitary inspection policy for licensed women's clinics, they were told no such policy exists.

"It's quite scary," Emily Zender, the group's executive director, says in the report. "While news reports warn of MRSA, urge flu vaccination, and praise hospital Ebola training, abortion providers are allowed to perform invasive surgical procedures in unsanitary conditions."

The report also reveals that 40 percent of the clinics licensed between 2000 and 2014 went without health inspections for 14 to 17 years.

It adds that the state's five Planned Parenthood clinics that perform abortions are not licensed, and consequently did not receive health and sanitary inspections between 2000 and 2014.

"What is even more unconscionable is that the Department of Public Health failed to produce any documentation showing that women who had abortions in unsterile clinics were warned of the potential risks," Zender added. "No woman should leave an abortion clinic needing HIV testing, a tetanus shot or hospital emergency treatment, yet for 15 years the Illinois Department of Public Health has abdicated all responsibility to ensure licensed abortion clinics are safe and sanitary."

The state requires even tanning salons to go through annual inspections and nursing homes to receive inspections every 15 months, but abortion clinics in Illinois are inspected an average of once every nine years, the group says. Besides, there's no sanitary inspection policy for licensed women's clinics, it adds.

The report carries some health violations documented at various Illinois women's clinics.

The violations included: "No registered nurse was employed ... Medical personnel were observed retrieving a paper towel from the garbage to cover food trays ... Reportedly gynecological cannulas were stained with a brown substance ... Suction machine in the operating room contained clear water with specks of floating debris in it."

The grand jury report on West Philadelphia's "house of horrors" acknowledged that lack of inspection allowed Kermit Gosnell to kill women and newborn babies.

"The State of Illinois has failed women. Refusal to immediately enact reform abandons women to the prospect of unsterile surgical tools, dirty operating rooms, and inadequate medical attention," Zender said. "Two clinics have already shutdown after health inspections revealed dangerously unsanitary conditions inside. Gosnell-esque abortion clinics are not welcome in Illinois."

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