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Orlando abortion clinic challenges hefty fine that could put it out of business

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An Orlando abortion clinic is challenging a hefty fine that could shut it down. Last week, Florida’s state agency that oversees the licensing and regulation of abortion clinics, the Agency for Health Care Administration, filed an administrative complaint against the Center of Orlando for Women on Lucerne Terrace. The Agency for Health Care Administration alleges the abortion clinic did not comply with the state’s 24-hour waiting period. Florida made the waiting period mandatory in 2015. The law was immediately challenged in the courts. But this past April, a judge in Tallahassee upheld the law. The Agency for Health Care Administration said patient records show procedures were “performed on the same day” 193 times in April and May. According to state law, the agency may fine an abortion clinic up to $1,000 for each violation. So now, it is proposing the clinic pay $193,000. In a court response, the clinic’s lawyer Julie Gallagher disputes the allegations and said the fine “would likely bankrupt” the clinic and “put it out of business.” In an email, Gallagher tells WESH 2 News: “Shortly after the Tallahassee Judge’s ruling allowing the 24-hour waiting period to go into effect, AHCA began surveying abortion clinics around the state for compliance with the new requirement. AHCA never provided any guidance to clinics on the ‘start date’ of the new law and, arbitrarily, picked a date in late April. AHCA alleges the Center of Orlando for Women was out of compliance for about two weeks. The clinic is challenging this along with the excessive fine sought to be imposed, $193,000.” In Gallagher’s response to the court, she said the abortion clinic tried to comply with the law by reaching out to the Agency for Health Care Administration numerous times to find out when the 24-hour waiting period would take effect but adds that the Agency for Health Care Administration staff did not have that information nor did the agency’s website. The Agency for Health Care Administration tells WESH 2 News it does not comment on pending litigation.

An Orlando abortion clinic is challenging a hefty fine that could shut it down.

Last week, Florida’s state agency that oversees the licensing and regulation of abortion clinics, the Agency for Health Care Administration, filed an administrative complaint against the Center of Orlando for Women on Lucerne Terrace.

The Agency for Health Care Administration alleges the abortion clinic did not comply with the state’s 24-hour waiting period. Florida made the waiting period mandatory in 2015. The law was immediately challenged in the courts. But this past April, a judge in Tallahassee upheld the law.

The Agency for Health Care Administration said patient records show procedures were “performed on the same day” 193 times in April and May. According to state law, the agency may fine an abortion clinic up to $1,000 for each violation. So now, it is proposing the clinic pay $193,000.

In a court response, the clinic’s lawyer Julie Gallagher disputes the allegations and said the fine “would likely bankrupt” the clinic and “put it out of business.”

In an email, Gallagher tells WESH 2 News: “Shortly after the Tallahassee Judge’s ruling allowing the 24-hour waiting period to go into effect, AHCA began surveying abortion clinics around the state for compliance with the new requirement. AHCA never provided any guidance to clinics on the ‘start date’ of the new law and, arbitrarily, picked a date in late April. AHCA alleges the Center of Orlando for Women was out of compliance for about two weeks. The clinic is challenging this along with the excessive fine sought to be imposed, $193,000.”

In Gallagher’s response to the court, she said the abortion clinic tried to comply with the law by reaching out to the Agency for Health Care Administration numerous times to find out when the 24-hour waiting period would take effect but adds that the Agency for Health Care Administration staff did not have that information nor did the agency’s website.

The Agency for Health Care Administration tells WESH 2 News it does not comment on pending litigation.

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