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Fla. clinic agrees to settlement over licensure issue, denies wrongdoing

An abortion clinic in Florida has agreed to pay $3,000 to settle allegations that it provided abortion care in the second trimester without the appropriate licensure, CBS Miami/News Service of Florida reports (CBS Miami/News Service of Florida, 4/18).

Background

In July 2015, Gov. Rick Scott (R) called for an investigation into abortion clinics in the state following the release of misleading videos by the antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress.

During the investigation, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) found no fetal tissue law violations. However, AHCA claimed that Aastra Women's Center, Bread and Roses Women's Health Center, and three Planned Parenthood clinics provided abortion care during the second trimester of pregnancy even though they were licensed only to provide abortion care in the first trimester.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said the alleged violations were the result of AHCA having inconsistently applied its definition for gestational periods and that centers were in compliance with Florida law.

AHCA during the investigation used a rule that defines the second trimester as the "portion of a pregnancy following the 12th week and extending through the 24th week of gestation." However, Planned Parenthood said AHCA ignored an agency rule that defines the first trimester as "extending through the completion of 14 weeks of pregnancy as measured from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period [LMP]."

In September 2015, AHCA issued a $2,500 fine to Bread and Roses Women's Health Center and a $3,000 fine to Aastra Women's Center. In December 2015, AHCA dropped its lawsuit against Aastra Women's Center after announcing that it was finalizing a settlement agreement with the clinic.

Last month, the agency also dropped its complaints against three Planned Parenthood clinics involved in the investigation. State officials have not dropped charges filed against Bread and Roses (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/29).

Settlement details

Under the settlement filed Thursday in the Division of Administrative Hearings, Aastra Women's Center agreed to pay the $3,000 fine.

According to CBS Miami/News Service of Florida, both sides maintained their positions in the settlement. The settlement states that Aastra "denies the validity of the allegations raised in the administrative complaint" (CBS Miami/News Service of Florida, 4/18).