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ROCKFORD-ABORTION Jan-18-2012 (390 words) xxxn

Rockford abortion clinic, open since 1973, closes its doors

By Catholic News Service

ROCKFORD, Ill. (CNS) -- A Rockford abortion clinic that opened in 1973 has closed its doors for good.

The Northern Illinois Women's Center, which was closed by the state Sept. 30 because of conditions that the state said violated public health and safety standards, announced Jan. 13 that it would not reopen.

"Please say a prayer of thanksgiving for all those souls saved by this latest news," said a note on the website of the Diocese of Rockford, which had no direct role in the clinic closure.

The Illinois Department of Public Health had said the clinic could reopen Jan. 4 if its leaders paid a $9,750 fine and agreed to the immediate revocation of its license if further violations were found. Instead the clinic chose the state's second option -- payment of a $1,000 fine, relinquishing of its operating license and closure.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, called the decision "a great victory for public health and women's safety" and said the Rockford clinic had been "one of the most infamous in the country."

"The entire state should thank the pro-life community for calling attention to the deplorable conditions at this abortion facility and demanding that authorities step in and enforce the law," he added.

But Scheidler said many other abortion facilities in the state have not been inspected for years.

"It's not enough for officials to step up and enforce the weak laws we already have," he said. "It's time for the General Assembly to close the loopholes that keep public health officials from ensuring other abortuaries aren't similarly violating the law."

During its nearly 40-year history, the Northern Illinois Women's Center had been the site of protests by Operation Rescue, the Northern Illinois Coalition for Reproductive Choice and other groups and individuals.

In 2000, Father John Earl, then pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Rochelle, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal damage to property after he drove his Saturn automobile into a closed garage door at the clinic, and then used an ax to open other doors and move about inside the building.

The Diocese of Rockford said at the time that "it has never been nor is it the policy or practice of the Roman Catholic Church to condone, approve or promote violence in any form to achieve a desired end."


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