Up Front and Personal

Don’t Make New York Next Gosnell Haven

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

It was more than two years ago that I read the Philadelphia grand jury report on Dr. Kermit Gosnell. It made me sick to my stomach. The report begins, “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women.”

It describes unspeakable conditions and atrocious crimes which continued for decades at a licensed women’s health facility: unsterile instruments, blood and urine-splattered furniture and floors, unlicensed staff, drug overdoses, punctured uteruses and illegal third-trimester abortions.

Today, finally, Dr. Gosnell stands a convicted murderer for severing the spines of helpless infants who were delivered alive and then methodically killed during late-term abortions. It’s about time.

It is deeply troubling that state authorities in Pennsylvania knew about Dr. Gosnell’s clinic and took no steps to resolve the problems there. Complaints had been filed, but the inspecting state agency simply never inspected. Why? The grand jury says the reasons were purely political:

“…[t]he Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey (pro-life) to Governor Ridge (pro-choice), officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions.”

It makes me wonder what’s happening in New York’s abortion clinics. Our state laws and regulations require that certain standards be met by abortion facilities, including those governing licensing, staffing, anesthesia, emergency back-up, etc. But is anyone enforcing these regulations? Are clinics routinely monitored or inspected to protect public health and safety? How would we know?

We do know they do it for nail salons and fast-food restaurants. Shouldn’t women’s health facilities have even greater oversight and accountability? Without meaningful safety controls and routine inspections, how can New Yorkers be sure they are not stepping into another Gosnell-like house of horrors?

Here’s the other extremely disturbing thing about the Gosnell case and its connection to New York. In Pennsylvania, abortion is illegal after 24 weeks of pregnancy, unless a woman suffers from “a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

In New York, abortion advocacy groups are pushing a proposal to add a very broad “anything goes” health exception to our law. In other words, the law would allow abortion for any emotional, economic or social reason in the final months of pregnancy.

New York should not become a “safe haven” for monsters like Gosnell who inflicted enormous pain and suffering on innocent women and children in Philadelphia. Please contact your elected state senator and assembly representative today to protest the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” and any “Women’s Equality Agenda” that includes abortion expansion. An easy way to do that is through the website of the New York State Catholic Conference at www.nyscatholic.org.

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