Congressmen request abortion regulation data from states

Kermit Gosnell mugshot CNA US Catholic News 4 12 13 Kermit Gosnell mugshot.

Amid the on-going trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding answers from state officials about the regulation of abortion facilities.

"We presume that each of you, upon learning of the failures highlighted by the Gosnell trial, have considered what your state governments are doing to ensure that similar crimes could not be perpetrated in your state," the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a May 7 letter to the 50 states' attorneys general.

"We too have an obligation to find out whether newborn infants…are being denied their most basic civil rights."

The congressmen continued, saying they are trying to discover if state and local governments are unable to protect newborns from murder after failed abortion attempts because of "legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government's power to address."

Dr. Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortionist, is charged with the murder of one mother and several babies, who were allegedly killed in his Philadelphia clinic, the Women's Medial Society, after being born alive following botched abortion procedures.

On May 9, the jury in Gosnell's trial entered its eighth day of deliberations, asking for the repetition of testimony from one of Gosnell's employees. Eight of his staff members have pled guilty to various charges in the case – three of them to third-degree murder.

In its letter, the Judiciary Committee – chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) – requested that the attorneys general answer five questions by June 1. The questions deal with late-term abortion, infanticide and the safety of mothers in their respective states.

"Do prosecutors in your state treat the deliberate killing of newborns, including those newborns who were delivered alive in the process of abortions, as a criminal offense?" the letter queried.

It also asked if state legislatures have passed laws "specifically to protect new-borns delivered alive in the process of abortions" and if so, how those laws have "changed prosecutorial practices."

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MIich.), sent a similar letter to the state departments of health. The committee seeks to "better understand how states regulate and monitor abortion clinics, and protect the health and safety of women."

The Commerce Committee requests the answer to seven questions by May 22, including "what information must be provided or requirements must be met for a facility or provider to be licensed" and "does your state conduct inspections of abortion clinics or facilities that perform abortions."

In a January 2011 Grand Jury report, a district attorney found that Pennsylvania's health department had contact with Gosnell's clinic in 1979, when it was first approved. The department did not conduct another site review until 1989, finding "numerous violations." Two site reviews found more violations in 1992 and 1993, but failed to make corrections.

"With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge," the report said, "officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay."

Bob Casey was a pro-life Democrat who was replaced as Pennsylvania governor by abortion "rights" supporter, Republican Tom Ridge in 1995.

The Commerce Committee also asked the state health departments if they "monitor complaints or adverse health events relating to abortions" and what actions they have taken to ensure that each abortion clinic has "a designated individual to report suspected medical neglect…of born-alive infants to the state child protective services agency."

Recent videos released by Live Action, a pro-life advocacy group, show that Dr. Gosnell's practice of murdering infants who survive abortions is not isolated to his facility – willingness to kill born-alive infants or allow them to die was found at facilities in New York and the District of Columbia. The organization said it will be releasing more videos from across the country in the coming weeks.

And an April 9 report from Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI, revealed that several nurses at Planned Parenthood of Delaware had left their employment at the abortion clinic over unsanitary conditions and safety concerns, calling the clinic "ridiculously unsafe."

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"Kermit Gosnell is the tip of the iceberg. Two former employees have blown the whistle on 'meat market-style assembly line abortions' at Planned Parenthood of Delaware," Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said May 9, praising the letters of the two House committees.

"The inhumanity of the abortion industry has never been clearer and now it's time for America to see how deep this lack of respect for life goes. Leadership in investigation and oversight is encouraging and the vital first step."

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