If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out this excellent new story by Carolina Public Press reporter Jon Elliston: “Documents disclose political, PR pressures surrounding Asheville abortion clinic’s suspension.” Elliston, who combed through reams of McCrory administration documents and emails obtained through public records requests, paints a rather dark and fascinating picture of what went on behind the scenes last year as lawmakers passed new abortion clinic restrictions and communicated with HHS officials about past and prospective clinic inspections.
This is from the story:
“While the documents stop short of pinpointing who or what prompted the mid-July inspection of the Asheville-based clinic — Femcare’s first comprehensive review in almost seven years — they do show:
- How two lawmakers involved in introducing new abortion-related restrictions across the state began asking DHHS about Femcare’s inspection history, and those of clinics in Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem, before the law was passed.
- How Femcare’s unique status as an ambulatory surgery center put it in the crosshairs of policy debates.
- How DHHS staged an unusually orchestrated announcement of Femcare’s suspension, and how top aides to Gov. Pat McCrory were involved in spreading the word about the suspension to the media.
- How DHHS and the McCrory administration — including the governor himself — responded to a flood of reporters’ requests for more information and attempted to reframe initial reports about what Femcare’s suspension meant.
The documents include some 30,000 pages of material, from emails to memos to inspection reports, though most are duplicates of press releases and news reports. DHHS released the files to Carolina Public Press last month following a public records request first filed in October 2013. Key excerpts from the release can be read below.”