Correcting False Reports: Eight Abortion Clinics Have Not Closed in Pennsylvania Since 2012

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Analysis Abortion

Correcting False Reports: Eight Abortion Clinics Have Not Closed in Pennsylvania Since 2012

Tara Murtha

On Monday, an anti-choice website incorrectly noted that eight abortion clinics in Pennsylvania have closed since 2012, misinformation that was picked up by credible news outlets that in some cases attributed the two closures to Act 122—another misstep.

On Monday, an anti-choice website incorrectly noted that eight abortion clinics in Pennsylvania have closed since 2012. In fact, six facilities providing surgical abortion have closed in that time period.

The site had included two Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood facilities that closed last year—Planned Parenthood of Collegeville and the Carlisle Health Center—as “abortion clinics.” In fact, both clinics provided contraception, but neither clinic provided abortions.

Local news outlets picked up the misinformation, in some cases attributing the two family planning clinic closures to Act 122, the regulatory law passed in 2012 that mandated freestanding abortion clinics adhere to guidelines established for ambulatory surgical facilities. However, the two Planned Parenthood closures were not a result of Act 122, according to representatives from Planned Parenthood.

“We decided to merge our Collegeville site with our Pottstown site in order to serve both communities in a larger, more modern facility that will be opening in June,” Dayle Steinberg, the CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, told Rewire.

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A spokesperson with Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates told Rewire that the Carlisle Health Center, located near Harrisburg area, closed for logistical reasons.

Of the six supposed abortion clinics that closed since 2012, two—Allentown Medical Services and American Women’s Services—were shut down by the state health department in April of 2012, prior to the implementation of Act 122. Both of these clinics were associated with rogue practitioner Steven Brigham, and were closed as a result of violations of the Abortion Control Act discovered by the state in the wake of inspections triggered by the arrest of Kermit Gosnell. (Brigham subsequently managed to open another clinic in the Philadelphia area, which was promptly shut down.)

Four clinics in good standing shut down mostly as a result of Act 122. According to the Department of Health, three of those six shut down “voluntarily.” The fourth, in Chester, told Rewire that it closed because the clinic could not afford the architectural renovations required to adhere to the new regulations.

Act 122, initially known as SB 732, was part of a tidal wave of similar legislation drafted by anti-choice lobbyists to flood state legislatures after the 2010 mid-term elections. As of this month, 28 states have drafted policies to regulate abortion providers beyond what is medically necessary. There is no evidence that the measure improves patient safety.

Though the two family planning clinics shut down last year, the “news” was likely posted this week because  Wednesday is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade.