UPDATE (2:27 p.m.): Kanawha Surgicenter responded to Morrisey’s request by fax on Tuesday afternoon, although it also did not answer all the questions laid out in his original letter.
“We along with doctors and other West Virginians dedicated to women’s health are concerned when, if ever any state official may single out certain health care providers for scrutiny for reasons unrelated to medical care and public health,” managing physician Dr. Gorli Harish said.
“While we are unaware of any legal obligation to respond to your letter, we have no objection to confirming that we follow all federal, state and local laws and that we provide the highest quality of medical care available. Our mission is to continue to work every day to make sure West Virginia women receive the medical care they need to stay healthy, to care for themselves and to care for their families.
The Women’s Health Center, one of two elective abortion providers in West Virginia, has responded to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey‘s request for information about their policies and procedures, although the answer probably is not one Morrisey had in mind.
Here’s an excerpt from the center’s letter, penned by executive director Sharon Lewis:
“The Center is not in the position of providing substantive responses to your letter. Our center is a defendant in a civil litigation matter and, upon advice of counsel, we must decline to respond to your inquiries and allow the discovery process and justice system to address those matters.
“We assure you and all West Virginians that the Women’s Health Center complies with all laws and regulations. The Women’s Health Center provides quality medical care services to the women and families of the state of West Virginia, whom we have proudly served for 37 years, offering a wide variety of essential medical services, including cancer screening, pap tests, STI diagnosis and treatment, pregnancy testing, heart disease prevention education, contraception, abortion care, sexual health counseling and pregnancy support programs.”
Last month, Morrisey sent a letter to the state’s two abortion clinics — the Women’s Health Center and Kanawha Surgicenter, both located in Charleston — requesting information about their policies and practices including:
- how often clinics are inspected by the state or other entities
- their knowledge of federal, state and local abortion laws
- whether the clinics have a “compliance plan” to follow those laws
- whether they are affiliated with the National Abortion Federation, which regulates member clinics
- specifics about elective abortion procedures performed at the clinics
The letter from Women’s Health Center doesn’t answer any of those questions. Morrisey’s office put out a press release Tuesday afternoon.
“We appreciate the courtesy of a response from the Women’s Health Center and hope the other clinic in West Virginia — Kanawha Surgicenter — responds in the future.
“We will continue our efforts to review the state of abortion regulation in West Virginia and seek to ensure that women’s health is protected.”
Clinics’ responses were due at end of business on Monday, July 1. The Women’s Health Center’s letter arrived on Tuesday morning.
Gorli Harish, the only doctor who performs abortions at Kanawha Surgicenter, told the Daily Mail last month he was out of town and would not be back in Charleston until early July. Harish said he would not look at Morrisey’s request until that time.