Carolina Public Press: docs show political, PR pressures around abortion clinic’s suspension

From Carolina Public Press:

ASHEVILLE — When state health inspectors suspended Western North Carolina’s only abortion clinic’s operations in the aftermath of a heated debate over a new abortion law last summer, some observers questioned the timing.

Now, Carolina Public Press has obtained internal records from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services that shed light on behind-the-scenes political and public relations maneuvering surrounding Femcare’s three-week closure.

While the documents stop short of pinpointing who or what prompted the mid-July inspection of the Asheville-based clinic — Femcare’s first comprehensive review in almost seven years — they do show:

How two lawmakers involved in introducing new abortion-related restrictions across the state began asking DHHS about Femcare’s inspection history, and those of clinics in Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem, before the law was passed.

How Femcare’s unique status as an ambulatory surgery center put it in the crosshairs of policy debates.

How DHHS staged an unusually orchestrated announcement of Femcare’s suspension, and how top aides to Gov. Pat McCrory were involved in spreading the word about the suspension to the media.

How DHHS and the McCrory administration — including the governor himself — responded to a flood of reporters’ requests for more information and attempted to reframe initial reports about what Femcare’s suspension meant.


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