Senate Democrats’ Bill Would Invalidate Law Used to Prosecute Kermit Gosnell

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2013   |   4:10PM   |   Washington, DC

LifeNews has profiled the new bill Senate Democrats have put forward that would invalidate pro-life laws nationwide that either limit abortions or provide protection for women’s health.

But a new report suggests the legislation would go even further — by invalidating the very Pennsylvania state law used to prosecute notorious late-term abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell.

Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack writes that that bill “would wipe hundreds of state abortion laws off the books–striking down everything from late-term abortion limits to health and safety regulations in many states.”

The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, would even invalidate a law used to convict Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year, and it could potentially force taxpayers across the country to directly fund elective abortions for Medicaid recipients.

“The basic principle is that there can be no restriction that is not also imposed on a medically comparable procedure. If they single out abortion or reproductive rights, it’s going to fall foul,” Blumenthal said at a November 13 press conference. Blumenthal told THE WEEKLY STANDARD following his remarks that it’s “for doctors to decide” what counts as a “medically comparable” procedure.

Blumenthal specifically condemned health and safety regulations requiring that an abortion “doctor have admitting privileges” at a hospital “or that the hallways in a clinic be a certain width, which has no relation to health or safety.”

Top officials at leading abortion rights organizations joined Blumenthal on November 13 in denouncing such health and safety regulations, which states like Texas and Pennsylvania passed in response to the deaths of women in abortion clinics like the one run by Gosnell in Philadelphia.

In fact, the Democrats’ new abortion bill is so radical it would lead to the invalidation of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act–a law, which has been on the books since 1989, that was used to convict Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year. In addition to being convicted on three counts of murder for killing infants after they had been born, Gosnell was convicted under the Abortion Control Act for successfully killing 21 infants in utero past Pennsylvania’s gestational limit on abortion (a limit that’s just two weeks later in pregnancy than the limit established recently by Texas).

Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email that Blumenthal’s bill “would invalidate nearly every provision of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, including the prohibition on performing abortion after 24 weeks except in acute medical circumstances, which was used to prosecute Gosnell.  Abortion until birth would be explicitly protected, as long as a single physician asserts that it would protect ‘health,’ including emotional health.”

The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act’s ban on late-term abortions has an exception for when the mother’s life is endangered or to prevent the “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” NARAL opposes the law because it doesn’t let abortion doctors determine whether or not a baby is viable and because the law’s “health exception is dangerously narrow.” That exception hasn’t been ruled to be too narrow by any court in the country, but it would be if Blumenthal’s bill passed.

The pro-life movement has brought abortions to record lows in many states by passing a record number of pro-life laws. States like Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Mississippi, and others that have passed almost every kind of pro-life law imaginable and have cut their abortions by more than 50 percent.



The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reports that 83 pro-life laws were passed in 2011, more than double any previous year. Dozens of pro-life laws were passed in 2012 and Guttmacher says 2013 may set an even bigger record.

One of the biggest effects passing pro-life laws has had is closing abortion clinics. A report LifeNews highlighted in August showed 44 abortion businesses closed in the last 12 months and 68 abortion clinics closed in the last two years.

Upset by that kind of success, abortion activists descended on Congress to support new legislation that would make it easier for state and federal courts to overturn pro-life laws by coming up with wild-eyed reasons they are supposedly unconstitutional. Their own legislation, if somehow approved, would not likely pass constitutional muster — as it is doubtful the Supreme Court would overturn the very laws they’ve issued monumental decisions upholding.