The U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear oral arguments in a very important case, June Medical v Russo, that deals with abortion, a first for the nation’s highest court since the confirmation of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In order to have a proper perspective on the case, everyone – including each Supreme Court Justice – should revisit the horrors that took place in West Philadelphia and reread the Kermit Gosnell Grand Jury report.
The case before the Supreme Court deals with the state of Louisiana’s long history of substandard oversight of abortion centers and the action state officials took to remedy the situation — namely requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The pro-abortion lobby filed a lawsuit in response.
Sadly, Louisiana is not an outlier. Pennsylvania knows that all too well. But just as Pennsylvania worked to correct its substandard oversight, Louisiana and other states should be allowed to do so as well.
On January 17, 2011, the investigating grand jury in the Kermit Gosnell case released a 261-page report detailing the myriad of offenses by Gosnell and his Women’s Medical Society clinic and the recommendations for how to move forward in making much-needed corrections.
The grand jury emphasized repeatedly the need for abortion clinics to be treated just like any other surgical facilities by classifying them as ambulatory surgical facilities:
The abhorrent conditions and practices inside Gosnell’s clinic are directly attributable to the Pennsylvania Health Department’s refusal to treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities. (page 166)
If oversight agencies expect to prevent future Dr. Gosnells, they must find the fortitude to enact and enforce the necessary regulations. Rules must be more than words on paper. We recommend that the Pennsylvania Department of Health plug the hole it has created for abortion clinics. They should be explicitly regulated as ambulatory surgical facilities, so that they are inspected annually and held to the same standards as all other outpatient procedure centers. Inspectors should review patient files, including ultrasound images, on site. Equipment, and employees’ licenses, should be scrutinized. Second trimester abortions should be performed or supervised by physicians board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. (page 16)
Had DOH treated the clinic as the ambulatory surgical facility it was, DOH inspectors would have assured that the staff were all licensed, that the facility was clean and sanitary, that anesthesia protocols were followed, and that the building was properly equipped and could, at least, accommodate stretchers. Failure to comply with these standards would have given cause for DOH to revoke the facility’s license to operate. (page 215)
It’s no wonder why the investigating grand jury members concluded that the Pennsylvania Department of Health should license abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities:
The inspection of abortion facilities is too important a responsibility to be left to the discretion of the Department of Health, subject to the whim of bureaucrats and lawyers who have abdicated their duty to uphold the law. As ASFs, abortion providers would be subject to mandatory annual inspections. If a facility failed to meet the standards required for all ambulatory surgical facilities, it would lose its license. (page 250)
We must all remember Kermit Gosnell. It’s why Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI) worked to help coordinate efforts to make a documentary about Gosnell called 3801 Lancaster (watch now for free on Amazon Prime).
It’s also why PFI worked tirelessly to help lead the efforts that eventually resulted in the passage of a state law treating abortion clinics just like any other surgical facility in the state.
Gosnell is not an outlier in Pennsylvania of substandard abortion services. An abortion facility in Harrisburg was forced to close on June 6, 2017, after failing multiple state inspections. Some of the more egregious findings of the now-closed Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center:
- Not having a board-certified OB/GYN doctor.
- Not having a Registered Nurse to assist women before and after the surgical procedure.
- Not giving background checks to staff who were interacting with girls under 18 years old.
- Having medications out in the open where anyone could access them.
- Having unsterilized equipment stored in paper “yellow with age.”
- Having medications which have been outdated since 2004.
Former patients of this facility left saying you could hear women screaming in the operating room. One commented that they wouldn’t take their cat there for services. Yet this facility performed thousands of abortions before the state finally closed their doors because of the ambulatory surgical facility standards in place and the mandatory safety inspections.
Surgical abortion is surgery. Abortion clinics performing this surgical procedure should not receive special treatment just because of the political football of abortion. Yet we live in a day when 41 U.S. Senators vote against requiring proper medical care for infants born alive after surviving an abortion. The abortion lobby is so extreme that they want abortion on-demand, without restriction – paid for by you the taxpayer.
If you were building a hospital or school, it would be a lot faster and cheaper if you did not have to comply with OSHA laws, a set of regulations to enforce protective workplace safety and health standards. Faster and cheaper are not reasons to suspend OSHA laws in order to build more hospitals. Safety regulations protect the end user and weed out the lazy, inept, or potential harmful providers from the field.
We must do everything we can to prevent other Kermit Gosnells. And just as the grand jury concluded, let’s agree that if we expect to prevent future Gosnells, we must find the fortitude to enact and enforce these necessary regulations.