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Harrisburg Abortion Center Closed After Ordinance Win

Contact: Liberty Counsel, 407-875-1776, Media@LC.org; Press Kit 
HARRISBURG, Penn., June 9, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Two weeks after the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Liberty Counsel's pro-life clients in their lawsuit against a Harrisburg ordinance which created buffer zones that silenced pro-life speech on public sidewalks around abortion clinics, one of the abortion centers involved in the case has closed.  Hillcrest Women's Medical Center in Harrisburg now has a sign on the door that reads "Office will be closed until further notice."

The Department of Health (DOH) ordered the Hillcrest abortion facility to close after state inspectors found numerous violations and stated that it has until August 31 to make corrections, comply with state laws, and pass another inspection before it can reopen.                                                                                                

Three state senators wrote a letter to the DOH questioning why it hasn't pulled the license for Hillcrest considering it has violated Pennsylvania health laws four times in six years. The facility was cited for numerous issues including improper staffing, expired medications and medical supplies, and failing to follow anesthesia policies for surgical abortions. A March inspection report found that Hillcrest did not have a registered nurse on staff and twice failed to provide documentation showing that its physician was board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. The facility also was not in compliance with the Child Protective Services Law. Hillcrest treated patients younger than 18, but at least eight employees did not have the required background checks.

Some medications at Hillcrest were stored a year or more after their expiration dates (a repeat violation), including 20 chlamydia and gonorrhea swabs that expired in 2004. Additionally, seven needles and syringes were "in paper wraps that were physically deteriorated and yellow with age."

In 2011, one woman suffered a fatal drug overdose during an abortion at Hillcrest. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran the clinic, was charged with eight counts of murder, for her death and the deaths of seven babies who prosecutors said were born alive and killed with scissors. A 261-page grand jury indictment was also released in 2011 that stated the DOH and other agencies — including the Department of State, under which the Board of Medicine falls — allowed Gosnell's clinic to operate nearly unimpeded since the late '70s. It hadn't been inspected since 1993. In its report, the grand jury said the DOH "decided for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all" and state attorneys changed their opinions and advice "to suit the policy preferences of different governors." The report also stated the department dropped its policy of annual inspections in the mid-1990s under Governor Tom Ridge, who supported abortion rights.

Liberty Counsel represented Becky Biter and Colleen Reilly, who regularly engaged in peaceful counseling on public sidewalks around Harrisburg's two abortion clinics, one of which is Hillcrest Women's Medical Center. They had been harassed and intimated by clinic staff and the local police since the City enacted the ordinance, which was drafted and pushed by Planned Parenthood. This unconstitutional ordinance purported to expel pro-life speakers from public property and pushed pro-life counselors sometimes 50 feet to more than 70 feet away from the women they are attempting to help.

"It is horrifying to know what was happening behind the closed doors of Hillcrest Women's Medical Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We pray those doors will never reopen again," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "We are grateful for the privilege to represent faithful sidewalk counselors like Becky Biter and Colleen Reilly who have helped save, since 2015, at least 50 babies whose lives were going to end at Hillcrest. However, Hillcrest is just one example of the centers where human genocide happens every day. Liberty Counsel continues to fight for the sanctity of human life so that the womb will, once again, become a safe place," said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.