Vote Shows Many Pennsylvania State Senators Had Serious Concerns about Cortes, Nominee from Gosnell Era

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell

Last week’s vote in the Pennsylvania Senate on the confirmation of Pedro Cortes, a Wolf Administration nominee, shows continuing concerns that the Keystone State will return to the lax enforcement of abortion law seen during the Kermit Gosnell era.

Eighteen state Senators voted against confirmation for Cortes as Secretary of State. Cortes previously served in that capacity at a time when the Department of State took no action against notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell is now serving consecutive life sentences for killing three full-term babies and causing the death of a female patient. The grand jury believed that Gosnell was actually responsible for the deaths of hundreds of viable babies, but charges could only be filed in a handful of cases because he destroyed the records in the rest.

While 31 Senators voted for confirmation for Cortes, the sizeable number of negative votes demonstrates that a number of people in the state legislature have lingering worries about the Gosnell case.

In fact, more than 40 PA lawmakers in the PA House and Senate signed a letter to the governor raising concerns about Cortes. The letter stated, “To fully understand the gravity of the failures of the department throughout Secretary Cortes’ service, one needs to read directly from the grand jury’s damaging report.”

According to the grand jury report: “Between 2002 and 2009, Board of Medicine attorneys reviewed five cases involving malpractice and other complaints against Gosnell. None of the assigned attorneys or their supervisors, suggested that the Board take action against the deviant doctor. In fact, despite serious allegations, three of the cases were closed without any investigation. The other two were investigated and then closed — without any action being taken.”

The letter from the lawmakers notes, “In his resume and biography Secretary Cortes takes credit for various achievements in dealing with occupational and professional licensure complaints and investigations during his tenure. Yet at the same time he takes no responsibility for the documented blatant failures of those same units under his leadership.”

The letter goes on to say, “…it is deeply troubling to us that you would nominate someone for such an important position as Secretary of the Commonwealth despite his deep ties to this national nightmare.”

The Wolf Administration has been put on notice — the old lax attitudes toward enforcement of abortion law will not be tolerated. We owe it to Gosnell’s victims to remain vigilant, to ensure that the PA Department of State cracks down on dangerous doctors who threaten the health and safety of women and children in the Commonwealth.