The callous killing of babies outside the womb, the routinely performed third- trimester abortions, the deaths of at least two patients, and the grievous health risks inflicted on countless other women by Gosnell and his unlicensed staff are not the only shocking things that this Grand Jury investigation uncovered. What surprised the jurors even more is the official neglect that allowed these crimes and conditions to persist for years in a Philadelphia medical facility.
We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.
Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design.
The Department of Health was not the only state agency that could and should have shut down Gosnell decades ago. The State Board of Medicine (the Board) is one of 29 boards overseen by the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. The Board’s attorneys had ample notice of Gosnell’s illegal and reckless abortion practices, and of the damage he had done to patients. Eight years before Karnamaya Mongar died, a former Gosnell employee told the Department of State about the illegal practice that resulted in Mrs. Mongar’s death: Gosnell had unlicensed workers anesthetizing patients when he was not at the clinic. Yet, despite receiving that report and several other serious complaints over the years, the Board took no action to suspend or revoke his license.