The Northern Illinois Women's Center in Rockford and the Women's Aid Clinic in Lincolnwood were among those. The state found health and safety violations and issued emergency license suspensions that closed both temporarily. The clinics' operators have opted to remain closed.
Owners of the clinic in Rockford worked out a settlement with the state that would have allowed it to reopen with a reduced fine of $9,750. But they announced this month that trouble hiring new staff and lack of support from some in the Rockford community had persuaded them to close for good. The clinic operators did not respond to messages conveyed through an attorney.
Larissa Rowansky, a co-owner of the Women's Aid Clinic in Lincolnwood, said her clinic helped women and provided the best care that a professional clinic could provide.
But Illinois inspection reports detail citations for practices such as frozen TV dinners stored in a biohazard lab refrigerator that also held placental or fetal tissue. The clinic's dusty equipment, lack of a supervising registered nurse and failure to perform CPR on a patient who later died also drew citations.
Rowansky said that patient didn't need CPR because she was speaking to emergency workers when she was taken to a hospital after her abortion. The patient "lied about her condition," Rowansky added, saying the woman had bronchial pneumonia and was too ill to have an abortion.
The other violations uncovered by the state inspectors were technicalities, Rowansky said.
"It was unfair," she said of the state's inspection last year, the first in 15 years.
A separate inspection of the building resulted in more citations for fire hazards. Fixing the problems and paying the fine would have cost more than a year's revenue, Rowansky said.
"I tried to help women to get legal abortions," she said. "If someone wants to work against that, there's nothing I can do."
The inspection sweep of the nine clinics didn't include other centers that perform more services than first-trimester abortions and are classified as ambulatory surgery centers. Anti-abortion groups said there are four such centers. Senger said she doesn't know how many surgery centers perform abortions.
State records reviewed by the AP show some of those centers have gone uninspected since the mid-1990s. Senger said the department intends to inspect those and other surgery centers this year.
The state's inspectors are spread thin, responsible for on-site safety and health inspections of facilities ranging from hospitals to dialysis centers to home health agencies. Lack of money prevents the state from hiring more inspectors, said health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.
"The department would like the regulation of all licensed health care facilities to be on par with how long-term care facilities are regulated," she said, "meaning a survey is done at each facility every year and whenever we receive a valid complaint."
Illinois law doesn't specify how frequently either type of abortion clinic must be inspected. Both kinds must renew their licenses annually, but no inspection is required with that. After an initial licensure fee of $500, a renewal costs $300.
A third type of health facility providing abortions isn't licensed or inspected in Illinois. These clinics are considered to be similar to doctors' offices, which aren't licensed by the state, and the majority of their services aren't surgical procedures. Planned Parenthood clinics fall into this category.
"Let's bring them all under some sort of regulation regime," Scheidler said.
Sharon Levin, vice president of the National Abortion Federation, a standard-setting body for providers, said the Philadelphia case is unusual and shouldn't be used as a basis for a crackdown.
State regulators should inspect abortion clinics as often as they do other similar medical facilities, Levin said, but 15 years between inspections is excessive.
"We have clinical policy guidelines and we regularly inspect our members ..." she said, "but we would consider 15 years too long."
Illinois Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat who supports abortion rights, is glad the state has stepped up its inspections.
"Abortions are legal in this state. They need to be safe," Franks said. "I want to make sure women getting these aren't being treated improperly."
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