- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. | Pennsylvania health officials say renewed inspections uncovered poor conditions at two more Philadelphia-area abortion clinics in the months after a drug investigation revealed a “house of horrors” facility operating in the city.

The physician who operated the two Abortion as an Alternative Inc. clinics, in Bensalem and the Germantown section of Philadelphia, received scathing reports and was ordered to suspend performing abortions.

Two days later, Dr. Soleiman M. Soli, 73, announced he would shut down the clinics instead. He then retired, according to the state Department of Health.

Dr. Soli’s operations are distinct from those of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, whose Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia was the target of a major Philadelphia grand jury investigation. Dr. Gosnell is charged with eight counts of murder for the deaths of a woman and seven babies born alive, then fatally stabbed in the spine with scissors.

Problems at Dr. Soli’s clinics were found after Pennsylvania regulators renewed long-dormant routine inspections of free-standing abortion clinics across the state in the wake of the investigation into Dr. Gosnell.

At Dr. Soli’s clinics, the Department of Health found drugs decades past their expiration dates, inadequate or inoperable equipment, poor recordkeeping and mishandling of fetal tissue.

“Dr. Soli served his patients for more than 53 years as a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. He retired last year,” his attorney, Stanley J. Milavec Jr., said in an e-mail response. Mr. Milavec said Dr. Soli, who retired from practice Nov. 19, was not available for further comment.

An Oct. 26 inspection report of Dr. Soli’s Bensalem facility found that drugs and equipment required to resuscitate abortion patients were missing and that it took Dr. Soli and a secretary 10 minutes to figure out how to use the clinic’s oxygen tank.

Dozens of expired drugs and medical equipment were found, some dating back decades. Sterile trays of instruments were not wrapped properly and the ultrasound machine, microscope and blood-pressure cuffs had not been inspected, certified or calibrated, they said.

At the Bensalem clinic, inspectors found that tissue from fetuses was left outside the building in unsecured containers for collection “for an undetermined length of time with potential exposure to the public.”

Abortion Care Network Director Charlotte Taft said the facilities that broke such regulations are “not abortion clinics; they’re women exploiters.” The clinics operated by Dr. Gosnell and Dr. Soli were not members of Abortion Care Network, a network for independent abortion providers.

“There is no question that in any field there are bad providers,” said Ms. Taft. She said that she thinks women went to such low-quality clinics because they were poor or felt they had no other option.

Michael Ciccocioppo, executive director of Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said the investigations are finally exposing unsafe practices at many of these abortion facilities. But he said for his group, safety was not the ultimate issue.

“I certainly don’t want people to get a false impression that if these facilities just clean up their act, everything will be fine,” he said, “because babies are still going to die in these places until they stop.”

Washington Times staff writer Elizabeth Wong contributed to this report.

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