Pennsylvania Holds Hearing on Abortion Practitioner Gosnell

State   |   Maria Vitale   |   Feb 8, 2011   |   2:28PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

State regulators in Pennsylvania allowed a doctor to allegedly “operate as a serial killer,” without taking action to shut down his abortion facility—until it was too late.

That was the conclusion of a state Senator during Tuesday’s legislative hearing into the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the West Philadelphia abortionist accused of killing one woman and murdering seven babies with scissors.

Members of two Pennsylvania Senate committees expressed shock that state regulators would not be held criminally liable for failing to take action against Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society.

A grand jury concluded that state regulators failed in their duty to provide oversight to Gosnell’s abortion center, which has been described as a house of horrors. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams told the Senate panels that the grand jury was upset with representatives of the Departments of Health and State who seemed “more interested in protecting the interest of the departments than the interests of women and young girls.”

Still, the grand jury did not charge any state authorities in the probe. Pennsylvania taxpayers paid more than $100,000 in legal fees for attorneys representing state officials who were called before the grand jury.

The prosecutors who testified before the Senate hearing said, since news reports of the criminal case emerged, they have been receiving calls daily from former patients of Gosnell.

There was “more oversight of women’s hair salons and nail salons” than over abortion facilities in Pennsylvania, according to Williams.

Williams said Gosnell’s facility was responsible for “horrific and barbaric treatment of women and young girls.” But, despite dozens of lawsuits being filed against Gosnell, state officials did not take action until after a federal drug raid of his abortion center.

Pennsylvania health department officials stopped conducting yearly inspections of abortion centers under former Governor Tom Ridge, citing concerns that the inspections would create a barrier for women’s access to abortion. As a result, Gosnell’s facility was not inspected for 17 years.

According to prosecutors, Gosnell’s patients paid from $330 to $2500 for each abortion. He reportedly earned $1.8 million a year from his abortion trade.

Prosecutors say Gosnell taught his unlicensed, unqualified staff to take ultrasounds in such a way that the true size and age of the unborn baby were disguised. Under Pennsylvania law, abortions are illegal after 24 weeks unless the mother’s life is seriously threatened or when the pregnancy would result in irreversible impairment of a bodily function.  The fraudulent ultrasounds permitted him to perform abortions well past the cut-off point established under the state’s landmark Abortion Control Act.

But Gosnell went beyond performing abortions, allowing late-term babies to be delivered live, then severing their spinal cords with scissors.

Much of Gosnell’s clientele consisted of low-income minority women and immigrants who were particularly vulnerable to Gosnell’s allegedly criminal practices.

“So many of the women were poor—maybe no one heard their voices,” Williams said.

The abortion industry has been forced to suspendtwo abortion businesses that employed embattled abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell, who has been the subject of national controversy over his abortion business in Philadelphia.

Following revelations that Gosnell is associatedwith two other abortion centers in Louisiana and Delaware, the National Abortion Federation made the decision to suspend the memberships of both. Atlantic Women’s Medical Services, the Delaware abortion business that employed Gosnell one day a week to do abortions, and the Delta Clinic abortion center of Baton Rouge, have both had their memberships suspended. Leroy Brinkley owns both abortion businesses. Atlantic operates abortion centers in Wilmington and Dover.

Delaware law does not require inspections of abortion centers but Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said his office will launch a “wide-ranging” investigation of Gosnell and probe his work at the Delaware abortion facility given the vast problems at his Pennsylvania abortion center.

Gosnell has been charged with eight counts of murder and several of his staff at the abortion center, including his wife and sister-in-law, have been charged as well in the case with assisting in botched abortions, practicing medicine without a license or covering up the actions of those who did. The counts include grisly infanticides that involved Gosnell snipping the spines with scissors of babies who had purposefully been prematurely born so they could be killed moments later.

Mongar died November 20, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor, Williams said. Mongar’s family filed a lawsuit against Gosnell’s abortion business seeking damages.

“We want justice, this doctor has to be out of that clinic or he should not be treating anybody,” Damber Ghalley told CNN. “And the things that happen to my sister, I don’t want to happen to anybody in the future.”

He told CNN “the clinic was so dirty, filthy with blood stains and a dirty floor, everywhere dirty, I cannot describe how dirty it was.”

Gosnell has been denied bail while the case against him moves forward. Women have spoken out about their treatment and one woman says she was drugged and tied up and forced to have an abortion.

Authorities searching the facility last year found bags and bottles holding aborted babies scattered around the building, jars containing babies’ severed feet lining a shelf, as well as filthy, unsanitary furniture and equipment.

The grand jury investigation also shows state officials did nothing when reports came in about problems at Gosnell’s abortion center, which has upset incoming pro-life Governor Tom Corbett.