West Virginia abortion clinics refuse to respond to inquiry from state Attorney General

By Dave Andrusko

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Here’s an update to our June 26 story in which we wrote about West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey who, in light of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial, had sent a three-page letter to abortion clinics asking for basic information, keyed to what transpired at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that both the Kanawha Surgicenter and Women’s Health Center of West Virginia (both based in Charleston) had declined to complete the surveys. The latter cited pending litigation, the former argued they had been singled out “for reasons unrelated to medical care and public health,” reported the AP’s Vicki Smith.

“While we are unaware of any legal obligation to respond to your letter,” Dr. Gorli Harish wrote, “we have no objection confirming that we follow all federal, state and local laws, and that we provide the highest quality of medical care available.”

In his letter to the abortion clinics, Morrisey said the state regulates numerous health professionals–including massage therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists–“but abortion clinics are neither licensed nor regulated by the state.”

He added, “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, the state needs to evaluate this basic fact.”

The “pending litigation” involves Itai Gravely, who is suing the Women’s Health Center for her 2012 abortion in which she alleges the abortionist left the baby’s head in her uterus.

In her lawsuit, Gravely alleges that Rodney Stephens gave her a sedative to “but during the procedure, Gravely asked to ‘stop’ the abortion because of extreme pain,” the State Journal newspaper reported. “The lawsuit alleges that Stephens ignored Gravely’s request and physically restrained her with the help of clinic assistants. The lawsuit then states that Gravely, still in pain the next day, called an ambulance and was rushed to CAMC Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Charleston. The ultrasound performed by CAMC medical staff showed that Gravely was thirteen weeks pregnant.” The staff then removed remainders of the baby’s corpse.

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“Morrisey asked the clinics’ physicians to explain their understanding of state abortion laws and regulations, to list the types of procedures they perform and at what stages in a pregnancy, and to explain how they educate and obtain consent from patients,” Smith reported. “The doctors were also asked to explain how they determine the appropriate amount of anesthesia and what policies they have ensuring patients’ recovery.”

“Morrisey said the answers the clinics provide will help him and staff attorneys, who serve as lawyers for state agencies, to ‘better evaluate the need for regulation,’” the West Virginia Gazette’s Eric Eyre reported last month.

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