Preventing the Next Kermit Gosnell, Abortion “House of Horrors”

Opinion   |   William Saunders & Kelsey Hazzard   |   Mar 14, 2013   |   7:02PM   |   Philadelphia, PA

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is on trial for eight counts of murder. The victims are one abortion patient, and seven born-alive infants whose spinal cords were severed at Gosnell’s “house of horrors” abortion facility in Pennsylvania.

All these deaths were preventable.

The grand jury report describes how state regulators failed to inspect Gosnell’s abortion facility for years at a time. In fact, the inspection that uncovered the evidence in Gosnell’s murder trial was not a state inspection, but a federal one; the FBI raided the clinic because Gosnell was allegedly running an illegal pill mill on the side. Had Gosnell stayed out of the drug trade, his horrific abortion and infanticide practice might have gone on unabated for many more years.

The lesson for states is clear: abortion centers must be thoroughly and frequently inspected, even if it is politically unpopular. State legislators have taken this lesson to heart. Since Gosnell’s arrest, Americans United for Life has received numerous requests for model legislation regulating abortion facilities.

Americans United for Life takes a multi-step approach to bringing abortion centers in line with the standards that apply to legitimate medical facilities:

  • · The Abortion Complication Reporting Act requires abortion centers to report all complications to the state. This legislation is critical because, without it, abortionists can keep abortion deaths from the public eye. Just this month, Maryland investigators—who were spurred to act by the death of Jennifer Morbelli in a late-term abortion—learned that another Maryland woman had died in an abortion center. Abortion workers were unable to respond to her cardiac arrest because the defibrillator was broken.
  • · The Women’s Health Protection Act requires abortion centers to be licensed. A license may not be granted until the center passes a physical inspection. The Act also directs the state health department to adopt standards for abortion centers, including basic necessities like “areas for pre-procedure hand washing,” “emergency exits to accommodate a stretcher or gurney,” “areas for cleaning and sterilizing instruments,” and, most important, “required equipment, supplies, and medications that shall be available and ready for immediate use in an emergency.”
  • · The Abortion Providers’ Privileging Act requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. A lack of admitting privileges can delay emergency treatment for women suffering from abortion complications.
  • · Finally, the Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act defines abortion facilities as ambulatory surgical centers, subject to all of the regulations that are applied to non-abortion surgical clinics.



All of this legislation, and more, is available in AUL’s free legal guide, Defending Life 2013.

Of course, the horror of abortion cannot be completely eliminated until the right to life of every human being is secured. However, regulation saves lives and forces abortion clinics to respect the women who come there. As the Gosnell case shows, passing such regulations alone is not sufficient—the regulations must be enforced. It is up to pro-life citizens to make sure that local and state agencies—and prosecutors—do this. After all, lives are at stake.