published Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Longtime Knoxville abortion clinic closes doors

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new Tennessee law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals is being blamed for the closure of a longtime Knoxville abortion provider.

An executive director of the Abortion Care Network confirmed to The Tennessean that the Volunteer Women’s Medical Center closed Friday.

The clinic had been operating for 38 years.

Executive Director Deb Walsh posted a public letter on the Abortion Care Network website saying the clinic was unable to keep operating in part due to the “Life Defense Act,” which requires abortion physicians to obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals.

“I’ve been able to keep the doors open and the phone staff working up until this week,” Walsh wrote in the letter, titled “End of an Era.” “We’ve been working on legal remedies, injunction, etc., but I was unable to bridge the financial gap of paying the monthly lease and operating expenses without knowing when we could resume seeing patients.”

She said one of the clinics physicians had successfully obtained privileges, but recently died.

The closure brings to eight the total number of abortion providers in Tennessee. A voice mail at the Volunteer Women’s Medical Center refers women seeking abortions to a clinic in Charlotte, N.C., 240 miles away.

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