Friday May 7, 2010

Pennsylvania Seeks to Shut Down ‘House of Horrors’ Phila. Abortuary

By Kathleen Gilbert

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, May 7, 2010 ( – The Pennsylvania Department of Health is seeking to shut down the abortuary run by Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, whose practice was abruptly halted in February after investigators stumbled upon the detestable conditions inside the clinic, including blood-stained floors and dozens of fetuses preserved in jars. A local grand jury is also currently investigating the abortionist.

Gosnell’s medical license was suspended immediately after the raid, which was sparked by the death of a woman in a botched abortion at his facility in November. The suspension order confirmed that Gosnell’s assistant, who had no medical license or training, regularly administered prescription painkillers and performed medical examinations in the abortionist’s absence. This assistant, according to the order, administered painkillers to 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar before she died of fatal arrhythmia last fall.

The state Board of Medicine described Gosnell’s clinic, where investigators found “parts of aborted fetuses” that “were displayed in jars,” as “deplorable and unsanitary” and “a clear danger to the public.” In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Health detailed more than a dozen state laws regarding patient safety and documentation that it found Gosnell’s practice to have violated.

Gosnell was required to respond to the Health Department’s citation within 30 days, but did not do so, Health Department spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gosnell was also silent regarding to the department’s motion April 20 to pull the clinic’s abortion license, said Kriedeman. She said health officials then asked the administrative judge in charge of the case to find Gosnell guilty by default; again, Gosnell failed to respond.

In addition, Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, confirmed to the Inquirer on Thursday that a local grand jury had begun an investigation into Gosnell’s practice.

The 69-year-old abortionist has been named as defendant in 46 civil suits since 1981, according to the Inquirer – ten of which were medical-malpractice cases, and one involving a patient’s death. The latter case was settled out of court.

The horrific conditions of Gosnell’s clinic had evidently been kept under wraps for years, thanks to his patients’ unwillingness to speak out in public about their experience. A Philadelphia abortion referral service known as CHOICE told the Inquirer that the state medical board had declined the group’s attempt over a decade ago to file a complaint against Gosnell, because the testimony had to come from the patients themselves.

“We couldn’t get women to do it,” said Susan Schewel, executive director of the Women’s Medical Fund, referring to the need for women to provide medical records and attend a Harrisburg hearing. Many of Gosnell’s patients were reportedly poor, uneducated, and lacking in English language fluency, further adding to the difficultly of bringing his practices to light. Schewel said the Women’s Medical Fund would discourage women from going to Gosnell.

But when women do speak out, the stories that they tell about what happens inside the clinic are gruesome: Malina Williams, who was only 13 years old at the time of her abortion, described to the Inquirer how she could see the preserved fetuses through a door left ajar moments after her abortion.

“He left the door open,” said Williams, now 32. “I could see all the little babies in bottles filled with liquid, and I started crying.

“He said he did research on them. He said, ‘Don’t cry, don’t feel bad. Everybody does this.'” Williams’ abortion, notes the Inquirer, was illegal, having been obtained without parental consent. Williams confirmed that Gosnell’s clinic “was the spot where you went if you got pregnant and didn’t want your mom and dad to know. They didn’t even ask for ID.”

The girl says she only began to learn more about Gosnell’s clinic after she had to return due to an infection. “It was only after that I started hearing rumors about people getting sick in there, that he didn’t even clean the instruments he used,” she said.

See related coverage:

Delaware Suspends Abortionist’s License for Appalling Clinic Conditions

Feds Raid Home of PA Abortionist – Seize Documents

Priests for Life President Calls for Respectful Burial of Frozen Fetuses

Two Dozen Frozen Fetuses Found in Grisly Abortuary Police Raid