A South Florida abortion clinic is fighting an attempt by state regulators to impose a $41,000 fine over allegations the clinic failed to show it provided required information to women at least 24 hours before abortions.
The Hialeah Clinic, A GYN Diagnostic Center, is challenging the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings, according to documents filed Monday. The case emerged as the agency also faces an administrative challenge to an attempt to revoke the license of a Pensacola abortion clinic.
The Hialeah case is tied, at least in part, to a 2015 state law that requires women to receive information from doctors and then wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion. After years of battles over the law’s constitutionality, a Leon County circuit judge upheld the waiting period requirement in April.
The Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates abortion clinics, alleged that it reviewed records at the Hialeah facility on May 17 and could not find documentation indicating that 41 patients had received the required information. He said he would fine the clinic $1,000 for each of the patients.
“The documentation was necessary to establish that the doctor who was to perform the act or the referring doctor had at least, orally, while he was physically present in the room, and at least 24 hours before the act, informed the patient of the risks involved. in (state law). said the agency’s administrative complaint. “In the absence of such documentation, there was no record that the clinic obtained informed consent from each patient for the procedure.”
But the clinic hit back in a legal document, disputing the allegations and accusing the agency of “unclean hands” in the case.
“The Petitioner (the agency) knew or should have known that the Respondent (the clinic) and its treating physicians notified each patient in accordance with (state law),” the document says. “The defendant delivered the two forms (signed by each patient) … to the petitioner, demonstrating compliance with the law.”
The Hialeah and Pensacola cases come amid legal and political battles across the country over abortion issues. For example, Florida lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis this year approved a measure to prevent abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, drawing constitutional challenges that remain unresolved.
In the Pensacola case filed last week in the Administrative Hearing Division, the Agency for Healthcare Administration is seeking to revoke the license of Integrity Medical Care, LLC, which does business as American Family Planning, and to impose a fine of $343,200.
The agency focused, in part, on complications experienced by two women who visited the Pensacola facility in March and May for second-trimester abortions. He alleged that the doctors and staff failed to meet the proper standard of care.
But in a July 12 document filed with the agency, an attorney for the clinic disputed the claims, writing that the clinic “provided patient care according to the standard of care” and that its complication rate was lower than the national average. The case was assigned to Judge W. David Watkins.
In May, the agency issued an emergency suspension of the Pensacola clinic’s license. The clinic challenged this decision in the 1st District Court of Appeals.