As The N&O reported Friday, the state Department of Health and Human Services has at least temporarily closed three abortion clinics in the past three months. Before this year, the state had only closed two clinics in 14 years.
DHHS says that’s a coincidence. This year has brought intense debate over a new law regulating abortion clinics, and top GOP officials were kept apprised of at least one of the closings. But state health regulators say they aren’t cracking down.
“As inspection reports show, when egregious violations that pose an immediate threat to patient health and safety are found, department inspectors do their job and act to protect North Carolinians from harm – regardless of politics and what is in the news,” DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said in an email Saturday. “There has been no change in policy or procedure, and there was no directive to increase inspections or closures of abortion facilties.”
Diaz notes that the Charlotte clinic closed earlier this year has reopened, and the other two – the Baker Clinic in Durham and Femcare Inc. in Asheville – can reopen if they correct their deficiencies.
The N&O story noted that the department characterized the closures as resulting from routine inspections. But Diaz felt that didn’t adequate emphasize the health agency’s denial of having a political agenda.