investigate

Pennsylvania’s failure goes much deeper than just confusing websites

Everyone in the country wants to know how it is that Kermit Gosnell was able to practice under such abhorrent conditions without anyone noticing. Pro-aborts blame pro-lifers. There have also been a lot of questions about how Gosnell was able to practice for 17 years without being inspected.

Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic wanted to find out how difficult it was to file a complaint with the state of Pennsylvania. Apparently, it’s extremely difficult.

How difficult is it to file a complaint against a rogue abortion doctor in Pennsylvania? It’s a question I had after reading the grand jury report in the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I got even more curious after reading this item by my colleague Garance Franke-Ruta, who interviews a nurse practitioner at a different organization who tried to help two former Gosnell clients to file a complaint:

…she personally tried to work with two women to file complaints to the Pennsylvania Department of Health about him. In both cases, the women found the complaint process so onerous and the telling of their stories so personally difficult that they failed to complete the paperwork and abandoned the effort. The Health Department complaint process “was way too burdensome” for the women, she said, “not to mention the stigma, to have to tell your story aloud to state officials.” So why didn’t she complain on her own? “It really had to be a patient,” she said. There was no clear channel for independent third-party complaints like hers.

Of course, that was then. Say that a woman walked into a clinic like Gosnell’s today for a consultation. If she saw cat feces, blood-spattered blankets, and medical waste all around, causing her to leave immediately, would there be an easy way to alert the appropriate public health officials? Say she had the inclination to complain, but would give up if it turned out to be excessively difficult. And imagine, though it’s probably naive to do so, that she knew the Pennsylvania Department of Health was in charge.

If you go to his article, you can see the hoops he had to jump through in order to figure out how to file a complaint against an abortionist.

But is that really the issue at hand?

This claim, about the difficulty of filing a complaint, is nothing more than an excuse. Multiple departments in Pennsylvania and locally in Philadelphia knew, at least to an extent, what was going on at Gosnell’s clinic and ignored it. The National Abortion Federation visited his clinic, refused to certify it (calling it the worst clinic they had ever seen), and yet didn’t report it.

Gosnell’s clinic was no big secret. Multiple departments were notified over the years about his appalling practice.

In 1996, the Department of Health was notified that a patient had suffered a perforated uterus at the hands of Dr. Gosnell and had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy. They took no action. A pediatrician notified the Department of Health that patients of his who had seen Dr. Gosnell were returning with a sexually transmitted disease. They took no action. In 2001, a former employee informed the Pennsylvania Department of State that the conditions at Gosnell’s clinic were abysmal – including the fact that he permitted flea-infected cats to roam the clinic – and that he was allowing unlicensed workers to give anesthesia to patients. They took no action. In 2002, the Department of State was notified that Semika Shaw, a 22-year-old woman, had died of sepsis and a perforated uterus in 2000. They took no action. In 2003, the Philadelphia Health Department received a tip that aborted babies were being stored in paper bags at Gosnell’s clinic. They took no action. In 2005, an attorney filed a complaint with the Department of State on behalf of his client, who had suffered seizures after Gosnell administered anesthesia which was contraindicated for people on methadone, which she was. She had informed him of this prior to the administration and asked him to stop as she began to seize. The Department of State took no action. In 2007, the Department of Health received a report of a stillborn, 30-week-old baby girl. The baby was induced in the course of an abortion. Abortions at 30 weeks are illegal. They took no action. In 2008, and then again in 2009, an employee with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health visited the clinic and informed them of the disgusting conditions there. They took no action. In 2009, Gosnell notified the Department of Health that Karnamaya Mongar had died at his clinic. There were requests to open an investigation. They took no action.

So we can debate all day long about whether or not it’s too difficult to file a complaint. But the reality is, it wouldn’t have mattered. The people who could have done something about this knew that patients were being injured. They knew that patients were being infected with STDs. They knew that patients were dying. Complaints had been filed, and Gosnell himself had notified them of various injuries and deaths. He apparently knew they wouldn’t do anything, and he was right. Friedersdorf’s point is moot, because violations were reported, over and over again, and complaints were made.

And as pro-aborts have pointed out themselves, it’s pretty simple as to why Gosnell’s clinic went uninvestigated for so long: to protect abortion. It’s very likely that government workers and lawmakers didn’t want to stir up a political hornet’s nest by going after an abortionist, even though women were being injured and killed – and babies being murdered.

The issue is not that it’s too difficult to file a complaint. The problem is that, time and time again, blind eyes are turned towards abortion clinics. Regulations ensuring that clinics are operating under safe standards are fought by pro-aborts. How can we be surprised, then, when we find a Kermit Gosnell preying on women, when we allow it to happen?