Ann Scheidler talks to reporter Mary Jo Ola after the January 4 hearing [Photo by John Jansen]
Several of us from the Pro-Life Action League attended a public hearing in Chicago this morning regarding the fate of Rockford, Illinois’ notorious Northern Illinois Women’s Center abortion facility, which was ordered closed by the Illinois Department of Public Health on September 29, and has remained closed since.
The hearing was called to order by Administrative Law Judge Cynthia Ramirez, who asked the parties in the case to identify themselves. Harold Hirschman, counsel for NIWC, and Eva Byerly, attorney for the Illinois Department of Public Health and representing the State of Illinois, did so. Judge Ramirez then noted that only the parties in the case were allowed to speak during the hearing.
Byerly told the judge that an agreement had been reached between the State and NIWC yesterday afternoon, and was signed this morning. Hirschman concurred.
Judge Ramirez then said that since an agreement had been reached, the case was dismissed.
The entire hearing lasted no more than two (2) minutes. Judge Ramirez then exited the conference room.
The reporters present were just as mystified as the rest of us, since they seemed to think there would be no story for them to report. They immediately approached Byerly and asked her about the details of the agreement, but she refused to comment, and then exited the conference room.
A few minutes later, I spoke with Sabrina Miller, communication manager for the IDPH, who told me that the agreement would be made public some time “later this week”.
What Was Public about This Public Hearing?
It’s outrageous that the terms of this agreement were not released at the incredibly brief hearing. No member of the public who attended the hearing knew at its conclusion when, or even if, NIWC would be allowed to reopen.
About an hour after the hearing ended, an AP story was filed that reported NIWC will be allowed to reopen after paying a $9,000 fine.
But when? That remains to be seen. A phone call made to the facility a few minutes ago went right to voicemail, and the message said they are not currently taking appointments.
We’ll be following up aggressively with the Illinois Public Health Department until we obtain a copy of the agreement between NIWC and the State. Once we receive it, we’ll report on our findings. Watch this space.