By Dave Andrusko
It was like pulling teeth, but the Pennsylvania Senate finally passed a clinic regulation measure that local pro-lifers described as, overall, good news for women’s health and safety. Senate Bill 732 included an amendment by state Senator Bob Mensch would ensure that abortion facilities abide by the safety standards of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASFs).
The backdrop to the legislation is a angry grand jury report that culminated in Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell charged with eight counts of murder.
The House had previously overwhelmingly passed its version– HB 574. The question was whether the Senate would settle for the least possible reform of abortion clinics in the Keystone State or get serious.
“The passage of Senate Bill 732 with Senator Mensch’s amendment is a response to the atrocities which took place at abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society,” said Maria Vitale, Education Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life. “Gosnell and his unlicensed staff are charged with the murders of seven newborn babies and one female patient, but the grand jury believes that Gosnell was actually responsible for the deaths of hundreds of babies, while harming untold numbers of women.”
For far too long, abortion facilities have been operating in the dark, Vitale said. “The women of Pennsylvania deserve better, and enhanced oversight of abortion centers is long overdue.”
The Senate bill, however, includes an amendment advanced by state Senator Pat Vance that would require the independent Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study within 90 days of the bill’s becoming law to see how much it would cost abortion centers to abide by the standards that govern ASFs. “The Vance Amendment is unnecessary,” Vitale said. “Abortion centers should comply with basic outpatient surgery standards as a matter of course. The lives of women depend on it.”
Last week on 37-12 vote, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 3 which would ensure that Pennsylvania is not forced into the abortion business as a result of so-called health care reform. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Donald White. The measure now goes to the House Health Insurance Committee, chaired by pro-life Rep. Nick Micozzie.
“Congress said states have the right to opt out of abortion coverage and we want to ensure that for the state of Pennsylvania,” said Charlene Bashore, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. “This continues Pennsylvania’s long-standing policy of not using government resources for abortion.”