Pennsylvania Cmte Votes for Oversight Bill on Abortion Centers

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 12, 2011   |   1:39PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania House Health Committee voted for legislation (HB 574) that would require the state’s abortion clinics to be regulated like every other ambulatory surgical facility.

The bill is supported by pro-life groups and legislators who say Pennsylvania’s abortion clinics should not get special treatment and extra protection from politicians and bureaucrats — like the facility run by embattled abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell who has been charged with eight counts of murder for botched abortions and infanticides he  performed in Philadelphia.

Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Council, told the bill is a good one because abortion centers in Pennsylvania should not be exempt from the same health and safety regulations that every other outpatient surgical center must meet.

“For nearly two decades, Pennsylvania’s abortion centers have been hiding behind a veil of politically motivated secrecy,” Geer said. “No inspections, virtually no follow-up on malpractice and injury allegations against abortionists, and lax rules and regulations that left women endangered.”

“HB 574 provides critically important health and safety protections for the women of Pennsylvania, regulations that many women take for granted when they undergo serious medical procedures,” he added. “We thank Health Committee Chairman Rep. Matthew Baker and the members of the committee for their timely action on this much needed bill.”

The bill passed the committee by an 18-4 vote and was drafted and passed in response to the “house of horrors” case of abortionist Kermit Gosnell and his staff, who were charged with the killing of newborns, at least one woman, and other unconscionable practices amid horrendous conditions while operating a state-approved abortion clinic in Philadelphia.

Details of this wrongdoing are in a Philadelphia Grand Jury report, which states, “There is no justification for denying abortion patients the protections available to every other patient of an ambulatory surgical facility, and no reason to exempt abortion clinics from meeting those standards.”

“House Bill 574 would put into place the most important recommendation of the Philadelphia Grand Jury investigating the Gosnell case. Cases such as this clearly show why it is critical that regulations be placed on abortionists in the Commonwealth. The lives and safety of women are clearly at stake,” Geer said.

Under the legislation, any licensed abortion clinic would be subject to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical facilities. The Pennsylvania Family Council calls on the full House of Representatives and the Senate for swift passage of the bill, so it can go to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

Rep. Matthew Baker, a Republican from Wellsboro and the chairman of the Health Committee, is the sponsor of the bill.

Gov. Tom Corbett in February ordered state nurses to conduct inspections on both an annual and random basis of abortion clinics and set new requirements for handling complaints about medical conditions at clinics. Baker’s bill specifies that the Health Department “shall apply the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements; and quality-assurance procedures to abortion facilities” that regulate surgical centers. Under the bill, abortion centers would pay the same $250 annual license fee – the same that surgical centers pay.

Gosnell and several staffers at his abortion center, including his wife Pearl, were arrested in January after a grand jury indicted them on multiple charges after officials raided his abortion business following a woman’s death and discovered a “shop of horrors” filled with bags of bodies and body parts of deceased unborn children and babies killed in infanticides.

In the raid, officials found jars containing the remains of pre-born babies dating back 30 years along with filthy and unsafe conditions and evidence that unlicensed workers had been illegally treating patients. The office has no access for a stretcher in the case of an emergency. In previous emergencies, care was delayed because exit doors were padlocked shut or blocked with debris from the clinic.

The abortion industry has been forced to suspend two 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.

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 nothingwhen reports came in about problems at Gosnell’s abortion center, which has upset incoming pro-life Governor Tom Corbett who fired several state employees.