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Rockford abortion clinic can reopen

This photaken November 2008 shows Northern Illinois Women's Center Rockford Ill. The aborticlinic thhas been closed since September 2011 can

This photo taken in November 2008 shows the Northern Illinois Women's Center in Rockford, Ill. The abortion clinic, that has been closed since September 2011, can reopen under a settlement signed Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. An attorney for the clinic says owners have resolved issues to the satisfaction of the Illinois Department of Public Health. (AP Photo/Rockford Register Star, Amy Van Horn)

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Updated: February 6, 2012 9:28AM

A Rockford abortion clinic that’s been closed since September because of health and safety violations can reopen under a settlement signed Wednesday, according to a lawyer for Northern Illinois Women’s Center.

Harold Hirshman said the clinic’s owners have resolved issues to the satisfaction of the Illinois Department of Public Health and have agreed to pay a $9,000 fine.

Anti-abortion advocates said Wednesday they’ll continue their sidewalk picketing outside the clinic if it reopens.

In September, the state health department issued an emergency license suspension, saying doctors at the clinic didn’t have surgery privileges at a licensed Illinois hospital and that the clinic lacked an experienced operating-room nurse.

The state also cited the clinic for failing to have a written agreement with a certified laboratory to do medical tests not performed at the clinic. The state had assessed a $15,000 fine.

Hirshman said doctors now have hospital privileges, the clinic’s nursing staff is adequate, and there is an agreement with a certified lab. He said patients’ health and safety never were in jeopardy.

“I think the state was quite reasonable at one level in working this matter through,” Hirshman said. “At another level, I think some of the violations, although characterized as detrimental to health and safety, were actually not.”

A hearing Wednesday in Chicago on the alleged violations iended abruptly with the announcement by attorneys for the state and the clinic that an agreement had been reached. Administrative law judge Cynthia Ramirez said she would recommend to the health department director that the clinic’s license suspension be dismissed in light of the settlement.

The settlement still needs to be approved by the health department.

“We’re unable to release details until the director signs the order,” said health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

The clinic has been the target of anti-abortion protesters.

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