|An abortion clinic that deals primarily with second-trimester abortions will close temporarily starting today as its doctor tries to abide by an order from the state Department of Health.|
Dr. Salomon N. Epstein, who sees clients two days a week at his clinic at 147 Front St., Binghamton, said the health department has ordered him to have a doctor available at the clinic every day.
"If I don't have adequate back-up for emergency care, they will close (the clinic) down," he said. "I am trying to find a doctor who is acceptable to the state."
Epstein said he lives in New York City and works in Binghamton on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But, he added, an assistant works in the office six days a week to answer phone calls and contact him in case of an emergency.
"This (requirement) is something new," said Epstein, who said he has operated the same way for 19 years. He said he is hopeful he will find another doctor. "If I don't find a doctor to back me up, I'll have to leave Binghamton," he said.
The other abortion clinic in Broome County, Southern Tier Women's Services, is unaffected.
Women's Services deals primarily with first-trimester abortions.
Margaret Johnston, director of Women's Services, issued this statement Thursday night:
"It is my understanding that Dr. Salomon Epstein closed his office in Binghamton as part of a negotiation settlement with the New York State Department of Health ... Naturally, we regret the loss of a colleague dedicated to providing abortions for women.
"It is apparent that the climate of intimidation and fear engendered by anti-abortion activism in the last 15 years has made provision of abortion services more difficult." Johnston said this is the reason Epstein has been unable to find another doctor to back him up.
Representatives of the state Department of Health were unable to find paperwork on Epstein's clinic and could not respond.