Jan 21, 2011

Prosecutors: Lax oversight led to Philly abortion mill
 
 
 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A filthy abortion mill where prosecutors say babies were delivered alive and killed with scissors would have been shut down long ago if not for extraordinary failures by state regulators, who had not inspected it since 1993, a grand jury report charges.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, a family practice physician with no certification in gynecology or obstetrics, was arraigned Thursday on eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and one patient. Nine employees also were arraigned, including four with murder.

Gosnell, wearing a green dress shirt, asked in court that seven of the murder charges be explained and raised his eyebrows as Magistrate Jane Rice detailed the allegations of the baby deaths.

In its report, the grand jury said failures of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other agencies allowed Gosnell's "house of horrors" to persist for decades, with baby body parts on the shelves and clogging the plumbing, a 15-year-old high school student performing intravenous anesthesia, and Gosnell's wife, a cosmetologist, performing late-term procedures.

"Had state and local officials performed their duties properly, Gosnell's clinic would have been shut down decades ago," the grand jury wrote. "If inspectors had looked solely for violations of Pennsylvania's abortion regulations, there would have been ample grounds to revoke the approval of Gosnell's clinic as an abortion provider -- as was demonstrated when DOH inspectors finally entered the facility in February 2010."

Complaints about Gosnell to state regulators went nowhere, even though 46 lawsuits had been filed against him. State officials, who arrived to testify with lawyers in tow, "enraged" the grand jury, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. Williams said he was "disgusted" by the lack of oversight but could find no criminal charges with which to charge them, in part because of the time that had elapsed.

State officials, including at the Health Department, have not commented despite repeated requests.

Williams accused state officials of neglecting the safety of abortion seekers not by accident, but "by design."

"State officials knew that Gosnell and his clinic were offering unacceptable medical care to women and girls, yet DOH failed to take any action to stop the atrocities documented by this Grand Jury," the report said.

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