Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf is igniting controversy for his decision to appoint a long-time Secretary of State to reassume his post. The reason? The Department of State failed during the secretary’s tenure to take action against now-convicted abortionist Kermit Gosnell, years before he was brought to justice.
Gosnell is now in prison following his conviction in the deaths of three full-term infants and one female patient at his West Philadelphia abortion facility. The abortion center has been called a House of Horrors by prosecutors.
The Gosnell grand jury report shows that the Pennsylvania Department of State had several opportunities to put Gosnell out of business, but failed to do so, under former secretary Pedro Cortes. Cortes served as Secretary of State from April 2003 to June of 2010. He was the longest-serving Secretary of State in the history of the Commonwealth.
Now, Governor-elect Wolf wants to re-appoint Cortes to the post.
But the question is, did Wolf read the Gosnell grand jury report before he made his decision?
“Indeed, in many ways (the Department of) State had more damning information than anyone else,” the grand jury wrote in reference to Gosnell.
Under Cortes, the Department of State closed a complaint without investigation into the death of a 22-year-old woman who died following a botched abortion at Gosnell’s facility. The same day, prosecutors chose to close an investigation brought about by a former Gosnell employee that indicated numerous violations, including using unlicensed workers to administer anesthesia; employing unsterilized instruments; and allowing flea-infested cats to roam the facility.
In 2006, despite the state not having any record of Gosnell being covered by insurance, investigators closed their probe into his insurance situation. And in 2009, another malpractice suit was ignored.
As the grand jury stated, “Pennsylvania’s Department of State neglected its duty to discipline a doctor engaged in unprofessional conduct.”
The grand jury further wrote that the problems with the Department of State went well beyond individual prosecuting attorneys.
“The Grand Jury is convinced – based on the number of state prosecutors who failed to take action against Gosnell, on the fact that the prosecutors’ supervisors uniformly approved recommendations not to take action, and on the testimony of Prosecuting Attorney (Juan) Ruiz – that the problem does not lie just with the individual attorneys. There are clearly problems with procedures, training, management, and motivation” at the Department of State.”
The prospect of Cortes being re-appointed as Secretary of State raises questions about whether Pennsylvania is poised to return to the days of lax regulation and failed enforcement that characterized the years during which Gosnell operated his abortion facility.