Friday, 18 February 2011

"House of Horrors" Discovery Prompts More Oversight of Pa. Abortions

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Following revelations that a Pennsylvania physician had murdered at least one woman and hundreds of viable fully delivered babies in his “House of Horrors” abortion clinic, Governor Tom Corbett announced sweeping changes to clamp down on his state’s under-supervised abortion industry.

After a grand jury report detailed glaring deficiencies in Pennsylvania’s Departments of State and Health oversight of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society, the abortuary he ran in Philadelphia, seven state employees resigned or were fired and Corbett announced dramatic changes in how the state oversees the industry, including subjecting abortionists and their clinics to both annual and random inspections.

The grand jury report noted that in a February 2010 raid of Gosnell’s clinic, federal agents discovered such horrific conditions that they immediately closed down the facility and suspended the doctor’s license. Gosnell has since been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a 41-year-old woman and seven babies who were delivered at the clinic and killed outside the womb.

Addressing the report and the charges against the abortionist, Corbett said that the state’s culpability in the matter “doesn’t even rise to the level of government run amok. It was government not running at all. To call this unacceptable doesn’t say enough. It’s despicable.”

In their raid on Gosnell’s clinic, federal agents discovered, among other horrors, the remains of 45 infants dumped in milk jugs, juice cartons, and pet food containers —  all stored in a refrigerator and freezer on the premises. Agents also found jars containing the severed limbs of babies, and conditions they called “by far, the worst” they had ever seen, with blood on the clinic floors, “filthy and unsanitary” surgeries, broken and dirty medical instruments and equipment, along with a “stench of urine” and even cat excrement.

Also present at the clinic, agents testified, were “semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions” whom they found “moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room....”

As reported by Baptist Press News, “Gosnell, whose abortion practice at the clinic was approved by the Department of Health in 1979, had never been certified as an obstetrician/gynecologist, the grand jury reported. It also found that none of his employees were licensed to operate or to provide anesthesia.”

In addition to Gosnell, his wife and eight other clinic staff members have been charged with murder and other crimes, including violating Pennsylvania’s ban on most abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy.

According to the grand jury report, the abortionist and his staff killed hundreds of babies outside the womb after they were delivered at the clinic, with Gosnell or one of his employees typically plunging scissors into the back of a baby’s neck and severing the spinal cord. Since Gosnell and his cohorts managed to destroy most of the clinic’s files, state prosecutors were able to file murder charges in only seven of the babies’ deaths, along with a charge of murder in the death of the 41-year-old female patient.

In addition to increased inspections of Pennsylvania’s abortion clinics, Governor Corbett announced a series of other changes in how the state supervises the abortion industry. As reported by BP News, those changes include:

• Fines of as much as $1,000 a day will be levied when abortion clinics fail to report a “serious event,” which encompasses injury and death.

• A doctor will review each “serious event” at a clinic within 48 hours, and an investigation will occur on the site within five business days.

• Plans to correct a deficiency in a clinic must be filed within 10 days and a suspension will be issued if the facility fails to submit a plan within a second, 10-day period.

• Inspectors of clinics will be from the same division that inspects the state’s hospitals and out-patient surgical centers.

• A sign providing the phone number of a 24-hour complaint line will be prominently displayed in each clinic.

In announcing the changes, Governor Corbett said that while it will be up to the courts to determine Gosnell’s guilt or innocence in the deaths of the woman and children at his “House of Horrors” abortion clinic, “it is up to me to decide how to stop such horrors from taking place again.”

Pennsylvania's Pro-Life Federation applauded Corbett for his leadership in addressing the high-profile situation, with Michael Ciccocioppo, the group’s executive director, telling lifenews.com that “we welcome the sweeping changes the Corbett Administration is making in an effort to protect women.” Ciccocioppo said that the case provided “a wake-up call for Pennsylvania and demonstrated the horrific conditions that can exist inside an abortion center.” He expressed his hopes that the state’s General Assembly “will show similar courage in enacting legislation that will provide strict scrutiny of abortion facilities throughout the Commonwealth.”

Photo: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett fields the media questions during a news conference saying he's removing a number of state employees as a result of an investigation into a Philadelphia abortion clinic where a doctor is accused of performing illegal abortions that resulted in the deaths of a patient and viable infants, Feb 15, 2011 in Harrisburg, Pa: AP Images