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Investigation Finds Neb. Abortion Clinic Did Not Violate State Abortion Laws

State health inspectors on Tuesday said their investigations into a Nebraska abortion clinic have found no evidence that the facility violated the state's 20-week abortion ban (LB 1103) or mishandled fetal tissue, Omaha World-Herald/Live Well Nebraska reports.

Background

In early August, two state health inspectors spent three days looking into the Bellevue Health Clinic, according to records from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The inspectors probed the clinic in response to allegations that the clinic was performing abortions past the 20-week ban and that it was incorrectly handling and disposing fetal tissue.

According to Omaha World-Herald/Live Well Nebraska, it is not clear from state records who filed the complaints. The facility's owner, LeRoy Carhart, said the investigation took place after a state inspection that was conducted six months earlier. He said he has not donated fetal tissue for research since 2000.

During the latest investigation, state officials reviewed the medical files of 31 women who had received surgical abortions and two who had received medication abortions at the clinic. They also interviewed staff members and reviewed the clinic's training documents and the clinic's policies and procedures.

According to Taylor Gage, a spokesperson for Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), the governor was not involved in the most recent probe of the Bellevue Health Clinic. However, Ricketts did request that HHS investigate the state's Planned Parenthood clinics after the release of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program this summer. Those investigations into Planned Parenthood clinics in Omaha and Lincoln, conducted in late August, found one reporting violation at each clinic (Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald/Live Well Nebraska, 11/2).

Several states have launched investigations in Planned Parenthood clinics following the misleading videos, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/3).

Investigation Findings

The latest investigation found that Bellevue Health Clinic complied with the 20-week abortion ban and handled fetal tissue correctly. According to the report, the clinic determined fetal age via ultrasound and included the results in the patient files reviewed by investigators.

The investigation also found three minor regulatory violations, all of which had been corrected by the time of a follow-up inspection on Oct. 13 (Omaha World-Herald/Live Well Nebraska, 11/2).