State failed women at abortion clinic

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Two weeks ago prosecutors released a 261-page grand jury indictment detailing horrific crimes against poor minority women and their newborns at an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.

Prosecutors charged Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, with eight counts of murder in the deaths of Karnamaya Mongar, 41, a refugee from Nepal, who received high doses of anesthetic for an illegal late-term abortion performed in 2009 and the murder of seven infants who were born, killed and then disposed of in Gosnell’s clinic, the Women’s Medical Society.

Gosnell’s clinic, which prosecutors have called a “house of horrors,” was a place where prosecutors believe Gosnell frequently delivered late term babies alive, then severed their spines with scissors and then stored their fetal bodies along with staff lunches in refrigerators at the squalid facility.

The grand jury document describes a clinic where there was brisk selling of prescription painkillers during the day and where at night abortions were performed for women who could not get them elsewhere because they were too late in their pregnancies.

“The real business of the ‘Women’s Medical Society’ was not health, it was profit,” read the grand jury document. The medical practice alone netted Gosnell at least $1.8 million a year, much of it in cash, prosecutors say.

The gruesome details of the grand jury document raise many serious questions.

How could Gosnell, a family physician who was not certified in obstetrics be allowed to perform abortions in the first place?

How could the state, specifically the Health Department, fail these women and babies in such a horrible way by failing to inspect and shut down the clinic?

Former Gov. Ed Rendell said that he was “flabbergasted” when he found out last year that the state Health Department didn’t think its authority extended to abortion clinics such as the one operated by Gosnell.

A spokeswoman for newly installed Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, said there are 22 registered abortion providers in Pennsylvania, and all of them were inspected in September and November.

Since the grand jury’s report was released Jan. 19, the Health Department has not commented and has referred inquiries to Corbett’s office.

The grand jury said politics played a role in the abortion-oversight issues. The panel said the state Health Department and medical regulators had numerous opportunities to shut the clinic down over the years but ignored several complaints about filthy conditions and illegal operations.

Prosecutors say most of the victims of the alleged abortion mill were women that were poor, minorities and immigrants.

The state failed to protect these women and their babies.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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