House Republicans began a review of the state regulations that govern abortion clinics, citing the murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell and a series of undercover interviews with other abortion doctors as evidence that clinics around the country operate under lax health policies.
“Planned Parenthood called Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors’ an ‘outlier,’ but we’re learning Gosnell is not an aberration: approached by women who complained about the disgusting conditions at Gosnell’s facility, they didn’t report it,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in a statement today. “When the Pennsylvania Department of Health found out about Gosnell, they sat on their hands and the media was silent.”
Blackburn is vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which wrote a letter to every state health department in the country asking for information on their inspections of abortion clinics.
“Does your state conduct inspections of abortion clinics or facilities that perform abortions?” the lawmakers ask. “How many complaints related to abortions or abortion clinics have been filed for each year from 2008-2013?”
Pro-choice advocates argue that Gosnell’s case does not indicate a need for tighter regulation of abortion clinics. “This is exactly what happens when you place undue restrictions and you try to shame women to keep them from exercising their constitutional right to safe and legal abortions,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Illyse Hogue told The Huffington Post. “You make them victims to people like Gosnell, because in their desperation they’ll turn anywhere. You want to drive people like Gosnell out of business? Then you actually support medical facilities and the right of women to safe and legal abortion.”
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Delaware gave abortion pro-life activists more material for arguing for the need for tighter inspection policies after two former nurses resigned over “ridiculously unsafe” practices at the clinic.
“It was just unsafe. I couldn’t tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was,” former nurse Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich told ABC, before adding, of the operating tables, that “it’s not washed down, it’s not even cleaned off. It has bloody drainage on it.”
Delaware Department of Health and Human Services director Mary Peterson explained to local media that “we don’t have the manpower to do routine inspections.”
Pro-life activist Lila Rose of Live Action argues that a recent series of interviews that her organization conducted with abortion doctors proves that Gosnell is not unique.
“Live Action’s investigation shows that the inhuman practices going on inside abortion centers, where babies are gruesomely killed in the womb or left to die after a failed abortion, are just another day at the office for many abortion center doctors and employees,” Rose said in a statement today. “Babies born alive are not only protected by the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, they are also afforded rights under the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment to our Constitution.”
The Energy and Commerce Committee letter also asks states to report on the policies in place to ensure that babies born alive during a botched abortion receive medical care.