An abortion clinic in Rockford closed over health and safety violations in September has been granted approval to reopen under a settlement agreement reached with the Illinois Department of Public Health Wednesday.
The Northern Illinois Women's Center agreed to pay a $9,750 fine and reopen under probationary conditions after correcting the violations cited by the health department, WREX News reports. That includes maintaining an additional registered nurse in the operating room during all procedures while a second supervises other nurses on staff, ensuring all staff physicians are licensed to practice in Illinois and drawing up a formal written agreement with the outside laboratory where the clinic had outsourced some medical testing. The 2011 inspection was the first conducted at the clinic since 1996 due to limited resources, a public health department official said.
The agreement was contested by the Thomas More Society, a pro-life leaning law firm that sent a letter to the Assistant General Counsel of the IDPH in November reiterating the sanitation violations cited in the department's original report. Anti-abortion advocates who have long targeted the Rockford clinic say they will resume picketing from the sidewalk if the facility reopens, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Harold Hirshman, an attorney representing the clinic, says that the IDPH agreement signals that the Northern Illinois Women's Center has addressed all of the department's concerns and could legally "open tomorrow," but declined to discuss the facility's future plans, the Associated Press reports. The health department also offered the clinic an option to remain closed and surrender its license for a reduced fine of $1,000.