With a vote of 19-4, the House Health Committee passed legislation yesterday that seeks to put an end to atrocities such as those alleged to have taken place at the Philadelphia abortion clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Dr. Gosnell is charged eight counts of murder including seven newborns and one woman. Supporters of the bill believe these horrors were allowed to continue due to a gross lack of oversight on the part of the state Department of Health.
Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga), chairman of the Health Committee and prime sponsor of the bill said his legislation would expand the definition of what an abortion facility is and hold such facilities to the same high standards as other health care facilities in order to make sure patients who go to these clinics for abortion procedures and other gynecological services are treated by trained personnel in a safe and sanitary manner.
“I was moved to author this legislation based upon the revelations by the Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury this past January, which led to criminal charges being filed against Dr. Kermit Gosnell for alleged abhorrent actions that took place at the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia over the course of nearly 40 years,” said Baker. “It was revealed during the proceedings that the Department of Health was negligent in its responsibility to enforce regulations created to protect the health and safety of patients in abortion clinics. My legislation will make sure that abortion facilities are held to the same high standards as all other free standing ambulatory surgical facilities.”
The grand jury report uncovered a long history of the Department of Health failing to inspect abortion facilities. In fact, between 1993 and 2010, no such inspections were conducted.
House Bill 574 would expand the definition of “abortion facility” to include any public or private hospital, clinic, center, medical school, medical training institution, physician’s office, infirmary or other institution that provides surgical services meant to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child.
The legislation would also hold such facilities to the same fire and safety standards, personnel and equipment requirements, and quality assurance procedures as freestanding ambulatory surgical facilities.
“It is important that anytime a patient seeks the medical attention of a licensed practitioner, that he or she receives the best care possible by trained personnel in a space that meets state standards,” said Baker. “I believe that Dr. Gosnell is just one example of what potentially could be taking place at other locations around the state without proper inspections being performed.”
House Bill 574 now goes to the full House for consideration.