Vomiting Patients at Northern Va. Abortion Clinic a Near 'Daily Occurrence'; WashPost Buries Charge Deep in Story

"Abortion center closes after run of difficulties" lamented a Washington Post headline on the front page of the July 15 edition's Metro section. "New regulations hamper relocation effort," a subheadline for staff writer Tom Jackman's story noted.

But deep in his 20-paragraph story, Jackman noted that the Fairfax City, Va., clinic, Nova Women's Healthcare, was sued in late 2011 and that court documents in that suit referred to sick patients "lying down in corridors... and, in some instances, even vomiting." In the 16th paragraph of his story, Jackman admitted that "One filing said witnesses would testify that this was a daily occurrence." Virginia's new abortion clinic regulations did not take full effect until June of this year.

A few paragraphs later, Jackman noted that, "In April, [Nova's landlord] Eaton Place sued Nova in Fairfax General District Court for failure to pay $95,000 in back rent. In June, Nova agreed to pay the back rent and surrender the space, court records show."

Nearly 100 grand in back rent and a history of lawsuits. That hardly sounds like a financially-healthy operation, but Jackman sought earlier in the story to hype how it was abortion regulations that may make it nigh impossible for Nova to find a new home in which it can resume killing unborn babies (emphasis mine):

A women’s health care clinic in Fairfax City that performed more abortions than any other location in Virginia has closed, and it’s unclear whether it will reopen elsewhere.

The closure, and the clinic’s difficulty finding new space, highlight a growing issue in the abortion debate: changes in local and state regulations and standards for abortion clinics.

NOVA Women’s Healthcare was in an office building on Eaton Place, just off Route 123 near Interstate 66, since 2006. Antiabortion protesters stood outside the building daily, the clinic was sued twice in the past three years by its landlord, and it likely faced a need to upgrade or move after Virginia changed its regulations to require abortion providers to have hospital-grade facilities.

After finding a possible alternative space in March, the clinic applied for a nonresidential use permit to retrofit that space in another office building. But the permit was denied in May because officials decided parking at the building was not adequate, zoning administrator Michelle Coleman said.

NOVA chose not to seek a special exception to the parking rules from the city council, Coleman said.

The Fairfax City Council then became aware of the clinic’s attempt to relocate. On Tuesday, the council amended its zoning ordinance to require that all clinics, henceforward to be called medical care facilities, obtain a special-use permit and approval from the council. Previously, clinics were treated the same as doctor’s offices and were not required to go through the city council.

A woman who answered the phone at NOVA Women’s Healthcare said it was closed and, as a policy, staff do not speak to the media. All traces of the clinic are gone from the Eaton Place building, and court records in Fairfax indicate the clinic agreed to relinquish its space in mid-June. Attorney Anthony M. Shore, who represented the clinic in a lawsuit filed by the building’s owner, declined to comment.

Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said NOVA “was trying to relocate because they couldn’t stay where they were, because of the new regulations. . . . The fact they were forced to move, that’s a testament to the barriers these providers face.”

The website for NOVA Women's Healthcare listed surgical abortions as one of the service provided and boasted that it offers three options for anesthesia, all administered by an anesthetist or anesthesiologist. A reasonable person might think that invasive surgeries requiring sedation at the hands of an anesthesiologist should be performed at a facility suited to medical operations and regulated strictly by the health department. Of course, to delve into the specifics would lend credibility to the notion of making such regulations, particularly if the clinic's landlord has complained about clinic patients falling ill in the office park as a "daily" occurrence.

Abortion Washington Post Tom Jackman