By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
COVID-19 appears to have claimed a different kind of casualty in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: abortion center inspections.
A recent check of the Pennsylvania Department of Health website showed that the latest inspection listed occurred five months ago—in February. While a standard 41-day lag time exists between the time of an inspection and its posting on the website, we can surmise that the Coronavirus has cancelled a number of inspections of abortion facilities.
This state of affairs is especially troubling, given the Health Department’s historic negligence when it comes to abortion center oversight. For a period of more than 15 years, abortion facilities went uninspected in the Keystone State—a victim of pro-abortion politics.
The lax enforcement began with Governor Tom Ridge, a proponent of legal abortion. His administration feared that, if inspections occurred, abortion centers would receive failing marks, and “abortion access” would be reduced as a result. Failure to inspect abortion facilities continued under his pro-abortion successor Ed Rendell.
Pennsylvanians would have been completely unaware of this state of affairs, were it not for the work of a grand jury whose report paved the way for the trial of Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell was an abortionist who was suspected of killing hundreds of newborn babies in his West Philadelphia House of Horrors abortion facility by “snipping” their spinal cords. However, because Gosnell destroyed so many records, prosecutors could only bring a handful of criminal charges.
Gosnell was ultimately convicted of murdering three newborn babies and committing involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of female patient Karnamaya Mongar. He is now serving three consecutive life terms in prison.
The Grand Jury report eviscerated the entire legal and medical establishments and did not pull punches about the pro-abortion politics involved, either:
…[T]he 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. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety. Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer.”
Abortion centers remained open for business during the pandemic. In fact, at one point, Pennsylvania abortion facilities were openly and unabashedly noting on their websites that they were only performing abortions, making them 100 percent abortion facilities. Lesser—indeed no–scrutiny of abortion facilities appears to be true again.
Meanwhile nail salons in Pennsylvania had to wait months to reopen under the Governor Wolf’s Coronavirus restrictions.
For the health and safety of women throughout the Commonwealth, the Wolf Administration needs to inspect abortion facilities, post the results, and establish absolute transparency when it comes to abortion center regulation.
Otherwise, officials in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would have learned nothing from the painful legacy of Kermit Gosnell.