By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
The allegations were horrifying—a Pennsylvania abortionist was accused of killing hundreds of full-term babies by delivering them alive and then murdering them by “snipping” their spinal cords. At least two female patients had also died, allegedly from his negligence in an abortion facility that prosecutors would describe as a “House of Horrors.”
Ultimately, West Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell ended up in prison, serving consecutive life sentences for the murders of three babies. He was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of female immigrant Karnamaya Mongar. Prosecutors could not bring charges in the rest of the cases of infanticide because Gosnell had destroyed so many records.
But, tellingly, he had kept souvenirs from his merciless killings—the severed feet of his young victims.
A number of Pennsylvania public officials were rightly outraged by the laxness with which state and local Health Department officials had policed abortion centers. The Gosnell grand jury report noted that the pro-abortion policies of two Governors had kept state regulators from inspecting abortion facilities for an astounding fifteen years.
Pro-life former Governor Tom Corbett responded by ushering in a number of changes designed to prevent future Gosnells from setting up shop in Pennsylvania. The state legislature followed with Act 122, a measure which required abortion centers to follow basic health and safety standards. A key provision of the law mandated unannounced inspections designed to catch those abortionist who would violate Pennsylvania law.
The abortion center regulation law has been tested in Harrisburg, the state capital, recently by the Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center. State inspections have found repeated problems at the facility; the latest inspection report detailing troubles is more than 40 pages long.
The violations at the abortion center run the gamut—from failing to maintain proper medical credentials to performing abortions without a nurse present. Some of the expired medical supplies at the facility dated back to 2004. Abortion center personnel failed to secure medications—staff members and even patients could have obtained dangerous drugs without even producing a key.
But, at first, even Hillcrest’s many safety violations failed to produce a public reaction. It was only after a National Right to Life affiliate, the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, publicized the latest failing inspection report that people started to take a second look at how abortion facilities do business in Pennsylvania.
The local ABC News affiliate reported on the facility’s troubled operations. A midstate newspaper followed suit, and then the Associated Press picked up the story. Even U.S. News & World Report carried an article on its website.
As bad as the health care violations are, it is important to note that none of them would be known to the general public, had it not been for Pennsylvania’s abortion center regulation law.
This demonstrates why the law is so critical for the Keystone State. The Commonwealth simply cannot afford to have another Kermit Gosnell operating in its borders.
Understandably, some Pennsylvania state Senators are wondering why Hillcrest is still in business. Given the facility’s sordid safety history, it is a fair question. State regulators have given the abortion center until August to remedy its problems.
The case clearly shows that the abortion industry cannot police itself. It is noteworthy that the National Abortion Federation, a trade association for abortion providers, had no comment when a public radio reporter contacted it about Hillcrest.
How could it? How can anyone argue that the abortion industry cares about the health and safety of women when an abortion operation fails to follow basic health standards?
The women of Pennsylvania certainly deserve better than this.