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Pennsylvania Abortion Clinic Closes, Blames Restrictions of New Law

May 12, 1994

YORK, Pa. (AP) _ A 10-year-old abortion clinic shut its doors, blaming Pennsylvania’s new restrictive abortion law for forcing women to seek abortions out of state.

The Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center, which had performed 1,000 abortions a year, is the state’s first abortion provider to go out of business since the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act took effect March 21.

The law, one of the nation’s toughest, requires women to wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion and after receiving published information about fetal development and abortion risks. Unmarried girls under 18 must get their parents’ permission first.

Women are choosing to get abortions in Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., rather than wait 24 hours to get an abortion in Pennsylvania, said Peggy Ross, Hillcrest’s director of educational programs.

″The law is doing just what it was intended to do - stop women from getting abortions in Pennsylvania by making it too restrictive and too inconvenient,″ Ross said.

″But people who think fewer abortions are being performed are deluding themselves,″ she said. ″It hasn’t stopped one abortion. It has just inconvenienced women who are going out of state.″

The number of patients at the clinic in York, about 90 miles west of Philadelphia near the Maryland border, has dropped off steadily since the law took effect, Ross said. She couldn’t provide specific numbers.

The clinic closed for good Wednesday.

″Thank God that there is one less abortion clinic in York,″ said Susan Karlovich, the regional president of Pennsylvanians for Human Life.

Karlovich said that competition from a Planned Parenthood clinic in York, not the abortion law, forced Hillcrest out of business.

The York Planned Parenthood clinic began offering abortions to low-income women six months ago and will continue to do so, said director Lois Backus. The clinic has performed 130 abortions and likely will perform up to 500 a year with the Hillcrest closing, Backus said.

The two clinics did not compete, since most Planned Parenthood clients could not afford Hillcrest’s $275 fee, Backus said.

Hillcrest, which opened in August 1984, was the scene of frequent demonstrations by abortion foes. In June 1989, 19 protesters were arrested after chaining themselves to porch railings at the clinic. In February 1992, 21 demonstrators were arrested for blocking entrances.

Last November, the same week Planned Parenthood began doing abortions, someone threw three firebombs through a window at the Hillcrest clinic, but the bombs didn’t ignite.

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