HARRISBURG, December 20, 2011 ( – A bill tightening restrictions on abortion clinics was passed in Pennsylvania last week, and one state legislator had a compelling reason for supporting it: her cousin was a victim of “House of Horrors” abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

State Rep. Margo Davidson said that in voting in favor of the legislation she was honoring the memory of Semika Shaw, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Shaw, a young mother of two, died from an infection two days after her uterus and cervix were perforated during an abortion performed at Gosnell’s notorious West Philadelphia clinic in March of 2000.


Shaw’s family received a $900,000 settlement as a result of her death, but prosecutors at the Pennsylvania Department of State declined to pursue criminal charges against Gosnell, according to a grand jury report. Shaw’s case had been reported to the Department of State, but it was closed without investigation. 

In a moving testimony delivered on the House floor last week, Davidson reflected that Shaw was “just coming into her own as a young woman” at the time of her death.

The first-term Democrat, who says she has “pro-life leanings” but does not support overturning Roe v. Wade, expressed hope that the law would ensure that “women will no longer walk into a licensed health-care facility and be butchered as [Shaw] was.”

The legislation was prompted by revelations that the clinic where Shaw died was a filthy, foul-smelling operation, where Gosnell routinely severed the spinal cords of babies born alive during abortion procedures. The Philadelphia abortionist, who has also been accused of killing a second woman and injuring many more, is set to stand trial for eight counts of murder.

The pro-abortion organization Pennsylvanians for Choice is opposing the new law, and calling on their supporters to “save women’s lives” by working against it. The organization says that hurdles enacted by the legislation may well put the state’s 20 non-hospital based abortion clinics out of business.

According to Rep. Matt Baker, who authored the original House version of the bill, the intent of the law is to hold Pennsylvania abortion clinics “to the same medical standard safety provisions of ambulatory surgical facilities,” including “unannounced inspections and a higher level of standards of care.”

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference praised the measure in a website posting last Wednesday, and asked Pennsylvanians to thank those Representatives and Senators who voted in favor of the bill.