Moira Sheridan

A tale of two clinics: Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors’ and Planned Parenthood Wilmington

Moira Sheridan
By Moira Sheridan

Analysis

April 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The parallels between Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors” in Philadelphia and Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington clinic at 7th & Shipley Streets are too numerous to ignore.  Most people think Gosnell an anomaly among abortion providers.  They are ignoring a growing body of evidence to the contrary.  Untrained staff, filthy equipment, unsterilized and reused instruments, complete lack of oversight by any governing agency, and abusive, contemptuous doctors are more the norm in freestanding abortion clinics than the public is willing to admit.  3601 Lancaster Ave. and 625 Shipley St. are ample proof that abortion in America today is anything but safe. 

The media’s failure to cover these atrocities and the Department of Health’s failure to investigate documented abuses are bad enough, but when combined with Planned Parenthood’s influence on government policy and funding, they perpetuate a deadly ignorance.  

Gosnell and eight of his employees are accused of murder, including in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41 year-old Bhutan immigrant, who was alleged to be over-sedated by untrained staff during an abortion at his Women’s Medical Society clinic.  Meanwhile, five medical emergencies necessitated hospital visits for Planned Parenthood of Delaware clients in a five-week period, from early February to mid-March, 2013.  From the 911 transcripts, injuries included excessive bleeding, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.

Testimony at the Gosnell trial and whistleblowing by two former employees at Wilmington’s Planned Parenthood facility are eerily familiar.  Horrific evidence of filthy conditions at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society clinic clash with the public’s image of abortion as a safe, sanitary medical procedure.  At Gosnell’s trial, equipment taken directly from the clinic couldn’t be ignored, placed as it was in front of the jury.  An outdated, corroded ultrasound machine, caked with dust stood next to ripped, stained surgery beds that looked like they were decades old.  So offensive was the sight that Judge Rinehart asked if they could be covered.  They stood in mute, incontrovertible testimony for four weeks. 

Witness after witness has revealed a litany of abuses, expanding grotesquely on the Grand Jury’s report:  “The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.”

But that could never happen at a Planned Parenthood facility, could it?  Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich and Joyce Vasikonis, former employees who feared losing their nurses’ licenses if they continued working at the Wilmington Planned Parenthood facility, told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia recently of a "meat-market style of assembly-line abortions where the abortionist refused to wear gloves, surgical instruments were reused without being cleaned, and ‘bloody drainage’ remained on abortion tables between procedures, exposing women to blood-borne diseases." 

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"It was just unsafe. I can't tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was," said Mitchell-Werbrich. She also worried that that women could be at risk of contracting hepatitis or AIDS. 

Gosnell employed untrained staff to do abortions, administer drugs, and perform functions intended only for licensed professionals.  Former staffer, Steven Massof, testified that Gosnell frequently had food in the procedure room and talked on the phone while he performed late term abortions. At Planned Parenthood of Delaware, the clinic recently paid a $3,060 fine - reduced from $5,100 – in an informal settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two violations related to blood-borne pathogens. One violation was related to employee training, another – considered serious – was related to employee exposure to contaminated needles.   Among the complaints they investigated were: “eating and drinking are allowed in work areas where there is reasonable likelihood of occupational exposure; contaminated medical equipment is not decontaminated as necessary; employees exposed to potentially infectious materials are not provided with and/or required to wear appropriate, protective personal equipment.” 

Untrained, unlicensed, and callously unconcerned staff at Gosnell’s clinic failed to follow any semblance of proper medical procedure.  At Planned Parenthood of Delaware, accusations from Mitchell-Werbrich’s report reveal improper counseling of patients, procedures performed without properly signed consent forms, failure to follow state mandated parental consent laws, untrained staff and little training available for sterilzation techniques, and lapses in mandated follow-up care. 

Doctors at both clinics specialized in assembly-line abortions, often treating patients with contempt or abusing them outright.  Tina Baldwin, a staff member at Women’s Medical Society, testified that she saw Gosnell “slap a woman on the thigh.”  According to Mitchell–Werbrich, she observed the same behavior from Dr. Timothy Liveright, abortionist at Planned Parenthood.  In a written statement documenting his bizarre behavior, she said, “Dr. Liveright struck the patient’s right lateral thigh with force with his opened hand, stating, ‘Breathe!’”  Among the posted reviews of Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington clinic on Yellow Pages is this accusation, alleged to have taken place in January, 2012: “I would like to warn everyone that a surgical gyn doctor, possibly hispanic/Italian (sic), treated me brutally during an abortion. When the nurse left the room, he suddenly and silently punched me in the abdomen but stopped as she returned. He then wordlessly proceeded with the operation. I felt terrified and helpless and he seemed happy to scare me.”  It was during 2012 that Mitchell-Werbrich submitted her observations to management at Planned Parenthood of Delaware, who did nothing. 

The laissez-faire attitude towards abortion clinic oversight by authorities who could have prevented so much suffering and death is despicable.  Gosnell slipped through the hands of federal, state, and city regulators into a black hole of apathy, ultimately protected by the abortion industry’s unprecedented and unchallenged ability to police itself.   Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich followed every avenue she could to bring the abuses she observed at Planned Parenthood to the correct authorities, knocking on door after door.  The result?  In December, 2012, the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, after a cursory visit to the facility, declared the case closed, citing it “could not find Dr. Liveright in violation of the Medical Practice Act.”  The Delaware Department of Health stated they found no evidence to support the claims of Vasikonis and Mitchell-Werbrich.  The response from the Department of Labor’s OSHA department to Mitchell-Werbrich’s complaint is telling.  “Planned Parenthood of Delaware has advised me that the hazards you complained about have been investigated…With this information, OSHA feels the case can be closed on the grounds that the hazardous conditions(s) have been corrected.”  

Such outrageous and callous indifference breeds Gosnells of the future. 

One look at the state of Delaware’s far more strict regulations for nail and hair salons makes one wonder how abortion clinics, with a long history of abuses in the United States, are allowed to go entirely unregulated.  Both the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia and Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington facility were caught in shocking, high profile exposés, no thanks to any medical authorities, who had all the evidence they needed.  In Philadelphia, illegal prescription of drugs was the premise for knocking down Gosnell’s doors.  In Delaware, a videoed attack of a pro-life grandmother outside Planned Parenthood’s clinic sparked a series of events that led the two former employees to go public with their findings.

One clinic is closed.  The other has halted surgical abortions after cleaning house – Liveright and several other employees are gone with the wind.  According to Planned Parenthood of Delaware Director Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, “We have made some modifications to our clinical hours for the next several weeks so that we can orient and fully train new staff.”  How reassuring, like Gosnell painting the clinic walls before a visit from the National Abortion Federation, who refused him membership. 

Shamefully, both the Gosnell trial and the exposure of Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s many abuses have received scant media coverage.  The local Wilmington News Journal ignored numerous urgings by prolifers to investigate the allegations against the clinic, something Wendy Saltzman of ABC-6 News in Philadelphia undertook, breaking the story wide open and forcing the News Journal to play catch-up.  Unfortunately, like the major media outlets who have turned a blind eye to the Gosnell trial, the local media have buried the more flagrant offenses under bland statements plucked from Planned Parenthood press releases. 

Planned Parenthood will find another “doctor” to do surgical abortions; more staff will be “trained,” and abortion will be “safe” again.  Until the next medical emergency.  Count on it.

Note: Moira Sheridan is a member of the Delaware Right to Life board of directors

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Louisiana judge orders state to recognize gay ‘marriage’

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By Kirsten Anderson

A Louisiana judge on Monday ordered state officials to recognize the out-of-state “marriage” of a lesbian couple and allow one of the women to legally adopt her partner’s child.

Angie Costanza and Christy Brewer were “married” in 2008 in California, but Louisiana’s marriage protection amendment, passed by 78 percent of voters in 2004, prevented the state from recognizing the couple’s union.  The pair sued in 2013 to overturn the law, in part because Costanza wanted to be listed as a parent on Brewer’s son’s birth certificate. 

Initially, Judge Edward Broussard dismissed the case without a hearing, but the couple appealed.  On Monday, Judge Edward Rubin took their side, ruling that Louisiana’s marriage protection law is unconstitutional in three ways:  According to Rubin, the ban on same-sex “marriage” violates the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.

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Rubin’s decision comes just weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman declared Louisiana’s marriage protection law constitutional – the first federal judge to decide in favor of a same-sex “marriage” ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year. “There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” Feldman wrote in his decision. 

However, because this case is being tried in the state courts, Rubin’s decision will take precedence over Feldman’s, pending appeal.

The state plans to appeal Rubin’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, the federal case is also moving forward.  Ultimately, it is expected that the question of whether statewide bans on same-sex “marriage” are constitutional will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2015. 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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