Serial killer Kermit Gosnell left a path of unprecedented destruction in his wake. A Pennsylvania jury convicted Gosnell of killing three full-term babies and causing the death of one female patient in an abortion facility Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams described as a “House of Horrors.”
Gosnell is now serving three consecutive life sentences for his crimes. The grand jury in the case estimated that Gosnell had “snipped” the necks of hundreds of babies after he had delivered them alive and hurt countless numbers of women. Prosecutors could bring only a handful of criminal charges against him, because, prosecutors said, Gosnell had destroyed so many records.
In response to the Gosnell catastrophe, Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a measure ensuring that abortion facilities would have to meet basic health and safety standards. The bill, signed into law as Act 122 of 2011 by then Governor Tom Corbett, also required regular, unannounced inspections of abortion operations.
Prosecutors noted with exasperation that hair and nail salons had been more strictly regulated than abortion centers in the Keystone State over the years. For 17 years, in fact, abortion facilities in Pennsylvania went uninspected.
As the grand jury stated, “…the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”
The grand jury clearly and emphatically wanted Pennsylvania law to be changed to prevent future Gosnells from setting up shop in the Commonwealth. Now, a Pennsylvania state representative wants to undo all the progress the state has made in regulating abortion centers through his introduction of House Bill 2332, which would repeal Act 122—a measure which might be better described as “Gosnell’s Law.”
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Representative Steven Santarsiero, a Democrat who represents some of Philadelphia’s suburbs, is a staunch defender of the abortion industry and of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion operation. He has introduced HB 2332 under the mantle of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down portions of a Texas law regulating abortionists and abortion facilities.
Still, as a top Pennsylvania attorney pointed out there have been no massive closings of abortion centers in Pennsylvania in the wake of the law, so abortion promoters would be hard-pressed to claim that the law “limited access” to abortion. Pennsylvania’s law, furthermore, does not treat abortion centers differently than other surgical centers, so abortion center operators cannot claim they are being unfairly targeted.
Act 122 has been so important in Pennsylvania because it makes inspections of abortion facilities a matter of law, rather than subject to the whim of the individual who occupies the Governor’s Office at that particular moment. Pennsylvania lawmakers were addressing a real tragedy—the horrors of Gosnell—not dealing with hypothetical situations. The dangers displayed in the Gosnell case were all too real—and all too terribly tragic.
Keep in mind that the emergency personnel who tried to revive Gosnell patient Karnamaya Mongar might have been successful in saving her life—were it not for the fact that it took them 20 minutes to get her out of the building because of the cramped hallways and padlocked emergency exit. Act 122 was a prudent way to prevent this kind of tragedy from re-occurring.
Any effort to repeal Pennsylvania’s common sense, women-protecting abortion center regulation law is an effort to turn back the clock on women’s health and safety—and to leave the state once again vulnerable to the Gosnells of the abortion industry.