Austin clinic accused of improper disposal of aborted fetuses

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by NOELLE NEWTON / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 21 at 10:21 AM

The state of Texas is investigating allegations Whole Woman's Health improperly disposed of fetuses.

Whole Woman's Health became the subject of a state investigation in late March. That is when a written complaint alleged that the clinic did not properly dispose of aborted fetuses.
 
Abortion is among the many services the clinic provides to women.
 
According to an initial report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, investigators found that fetuses from the clinic ended up at the Sunset Farms Landfill off U.S. 290 and Giles Road along with all other municipal trash.
 
At the time of the complaint, the clinic had a contract with a medical waste company called Stericycle. According to the TCEQ report, the company would steam disinfect the fetuses before disposing of them at the landfill.
 
According to state code, steam disinfection is legal treatment if followed by internment including cremation or burial. Investigators say that was not happening. Disposing treated fetuses at a municipal landfill is against state code.
 
In addition to that violation, the state determined that Whole Woman's Health did not properly weigh and label medical waste of aborted fetuses.
 
Stericycle Austin Autoclave Facilities Manager Joel Barr told state investigators that it is the generator's responsibility to properly label boxes for incineration.
 
State investigators found that the clinic did not use labels indicating "incinerate only."
 
Whole Woman's Health cannot comment about the investigation because it is still underway. The contract with Stericycle has been terminated.
 
Whole Woman’s Health President and CEO Amy Hagstrom told KVUE, "Over the last few months, organized groups whose stated goal is to close abortion care clinics have targeted Whole Woman's Health as a foothold to a larger national campaign."
 
According to the TCEQ, no other investigations have been conducted at Whole Woman’s Health.
 
The investigation is now in the enforcement phase where a punishment will be determined.

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