Under the Dome

Dome: DHHS adamant there’s no abortion clinic crackdown

From Staff ReportsAugust 4, 2013 

As The N&O reported Friday, the state Department of Health and Human Services has 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 facilities.”

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 adequately emphasize the health agency’s denial of having a political agenda.

Wisconsin parallel

North Carolina’s abortion wars have also been playing out in several other states. Last week, a federal judge extended a delay on a Wisconsin law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have local hospital admitting privileges. Opponents say it would close two of the state’s four clinics.

Admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic was proposed in a bill in North Carolina this past session, but didn’t go anywhere.

Federal judges have blocked similar provisions in recent laws passed in Alabama and Mississippi.

38 wait for McCrory

As of press time, Gov. Pat McCrory hasn’t signed any bills in a week, and there are 38 of them on his desk. Deadline to sign them is a minute before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 25. He signed a spate of legislation on July 29.

New appointees

But he has been busy making appointments. These were announced Saturday:

• Acupuncture Licensing Board: Dr. Mary Majebe from Buncombe County. Majebe is the founder and director of Chinese Acupuncture and Herbology Clinic in Asheville. The clinic has been in operation since 1985. Majebe is also the president of the Daoist Traditions College of Chinese Medical Arts in Asheville. She will be filling the role of a licensed acupuncturist. Each term length is three years.

• North Carolina Psychology Board: Anthony Powell of Pender County. Powell is the mental health director at Pender Correctional Institution and an adjunct faculty member at Campbell University, teaching criminal justice and psychology courses. He is being reappointed to his second term. Matthew Van Horn, who is an attorney with his own law practice in Raleigh. His practice includes personal injury and medical malpractice. Each term length is three years.

• Podiatry Examiners: Dr. David Kirlin of Gaston County. Kirlin is a podiatrist and is being reappointed to his second term in a licensed podiatrist seat. Each term length is three years.

• State Board of Examiners in Optometry: Dr. William Rafferty of Forsyth County. Rafferty works in the Winston-Salem office for Duke Health in the ophthalmology division. He will be serving his first term and filling the role of a licensed optometrist. Each term length is five years.

Staff writer Craig Jarvis

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