N.O. abortion clinic’s fate remains in limbo, lawyer says

The state’s 2012 revocation of a New Orleans outpatient clinic’s license to perform abortions has been overturned, but the fate of the facility — which was the subject of a court ruling last week — remains in limbo, the clinic’s attorney said Tuesday.

Ellie Schilling, who represents Midtown Medical LLC, said the clinic lost its lease and sold most of its medical equipment after the state Department of Health and Hospitals yanked Midtown’s license in July 2012.

On March 5, a panel of three administrative law judges reversed the license revocation.

DHH had cited Midtown for a number of alleged deficiencies and violations of the rules for abortion facilities, but the panel found Midtown violated only one rule and said the violation — a recording error by a medical assistant — was not sufficient reason to revoke its license.

“We feel really vindicated,” Schilling said. “It has been quite an uphill battle. Right now the clinic is not operating.”

Schilling’s comments came several days after the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed a state appeals court in a separate matter involving Midtown, finding that DHH had the legal authority to fine Midtown in 2010.

The appellate court had determined outpatient abortion providers are not listed in state statutes as facilities that DHH can sanction. The state’s highest court disagreed Friday.

DHH assessed two separate $600 fines against the clinic in 2010 based on the department’s determination that the facility was out of compliance with “federal and/or state rules for abortion clinics.”

Midtown denied those allegations and argued DHH had overstepped its authority.

The state Supreme Court sent the matter involving those fines back to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal last week for further review.

Five abortion clinics operate in Louisiana today. They are located in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Metairie, Shreveport and Bossier City.