By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The release of a grand jury report on the West Philadelphia abortion clinic that was dubbed a “shop of horrors” by investigators reveals that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health (DOH) deliberately chose not to enforce laws that require much higher safety standards in the state’s abortion clinics.
“We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers,” the report says. “Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.”
The Department of Health (DOH) has the responsibility for writing and enforcing regulations to protect health and safety in abortion clinics as well as in hospitals and other health care facilities, the report states. Yet a significant difference exists between how DOH monitors abortion clinics and how it monitors facilities where other medical procedures are performed.
“Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design,” the report indicates.
Even more shocking, the report reveals that state health officials were aware that Gosnell’s clinic was offering unacceptable medical care to women and girls and yet did nothing about it.
The report goes on to say that when these officials were called to testify before a grand jury about Gosnell’s clinic, they were far more protective of themselves than they were of the women they were charged to protect.
“Even DOH lawyers, including the chief counsel, brought private attorneys with them – presumably at government expense,” the report reads.
Officials apparently “twisted” state law in order to avoid having to inspect abortion centers, and made the decision not to enforce these laws based on internal policy decisions which could have been politically motivated.
Pro-abortion groups in the U.S. have long fought attempts by states to enforce the same regulations on abortion clinics as they do on other medical centers and ambulatory surgical facilities.
For instance, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion legal organization, claims that these laws, which they nicknamed “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) “single out the medical practices of doctors who provide abortions, and impose on them requirements that are different and more burdensome than those imposed on other medical practices.”
These regulations may require that abortions be performed in “far more sophisticated and expensive facilities than are necessary to ensure the provision of safe procedures,” they complain, saying that compliance could require extensive renovations that could be physically impossible in some facilties.
“TRAP laws may also allow unannounced state inspections, even when patients are present. These excessive and unnecessary government regulations – an ever-growing trend among state legislatures – increase the cost and scarcity of abortion services, harming women’s health and inhibiting their reproductive choices.”
However, Gosnell’s case shows the horrifying consequences of playing politics with reasonable health and safety standards.
In fact, the Grand Jury report reveals that representatives of a leading pro-abortion group, the National Abortion Federation, visited Gosnell the day after a woman died as a result of an abortion performed at the facility. Even though they noted numerous violations in their report, they never reported him to the state authorities.
“These people who saw the abuses yet stood idly by, or worse, encouraged the behavior that has now shocked the nation bear some responsibility for what happened in Philadelphia,” says Troy Newman, president of the national pro-life group, Operation Rescue. “They deserve criminal prosecution just as much as Gosnell and his cohorts because their silence not only enabled the crimes, but gave tacit consent to them.”
Operation Rescue is calling for an emergency inspection of every abortion clinic in the nation.
“We have often said that if this were to ever happen, no abortion clinic would remain in operation because we have yet to discover one that adheres to all the laws that apply to them.”
Operation Rescue has posted images of the victims of Gosnell’s “shop of horrors.” These extremely disturbing pictures can be found here.
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