In response to the investigation of Kermit Gosnell — a West Philadelphia abortion doctor who now faces murder charges — Pennsylvania state legislators will introduce new regulations for abortion clinics.
The Pennsylvania State House and Senate passed the bill last week, and Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law on Dec. 22.
The new regulations will require the state’s Department of Health to hold abortion clinics to stricter regulations such as adhering to strict building codes and other state regulations.
Proponents of the bill believe the bill will allow for safer abortions, while those against the bill believe it will be an attempt to make it harder for women to obtain abortions.
Wharton junior and member of the Women’s Center Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention — a student group that raises awareness of sexual assault — Juan Carlos Melendez-Torres opposes the new regulations.
“None of the current clinics uphold those standards [that are required by this bill],” Melendez-Torres, also United Minorities Council vice chair, said.
He believes that when this bill becomes law, abortion clinics that currently uphold safe practices will be forced to overhaul their facilities, which will be very costly. The money spent doing so could prevent women from receiving the health care that they seek, he said.
College Republicans chair and Wharton senior Charles Gray, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist, has a different perspective. “This bill is to prevent this from happening again. Both [political] parties can unite around [that],” he said. “A lot of this bill is about giving the tools necessary so that standards can be enforced.”
Just two blocks away from campus, Gosnell’s clinic, the Women’s Medical Society, did not meet current abortion clinic standards. The grand jury report revealed that when the clinic was searched, blood was found on the floor, instruments were not sanitized, fetuses were found in containers around the clinic and cat urine and feces were present in the office.
Gosnell was the only licensed practitioner in his clinic.
Steven Massof, one of 10 former employees working under Gosnell, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder. In a hearing on Feb. 8, he will plead guilty on charges of illegally prescribing oxycodone — a harmful drug to fetuses.
Employees like Massof were referred to as doctors by patients and staff but were not qualified to perform abortions. In addition, there were no licensed nurses in the clinic.
Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, pleaded guilty to performing an abortion after 24 weeks, criminal conspiracy and participating in a corrupt organization, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Gosnell is notorious for allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions and even killing unwanted newborn babies by a process he calls “snipping,” in which he would cut their spinal cords with scissors.
Seven of the eight murder charges faced by Gosnell are for these infants’ deaths. The eighth is for Karnamaya Mongar, a Bhutanese immigrant, who died from a misuse of Demerol injected by some of Gosnell’s employees when he was out of the office, according to a Nov. 27 DP article.
Gosnell’s clinic has long been suspected of misconduct, but it was not until the 2010 raid that a full picture of what was occurring came to light.
UMC political chair and College sophomore Stephen Ahn sees this as a huge failure on the part of the Philadelphia health department but does not think new regulations are necessary. Only the current regulations need to be enforced, he said.
Gosnell’s case raises an important question apart from clinic regulations. His patients were primarily poor, minority and immigrant women who were unaware about the way they would be treated under his care. Gosnell attracted these types of patients because his services were inexpensive.
Melendez-Torres believes this case is “more of an issue of poverty and race intersecting … and lack of education opportunities … and resources in Philadelphia,” than anything else.
Gray and Melendez-Torres agree that this is an opportunity for students to learn about what is going on in the West Philadelphia area and what can be done to help stop tragedies like these.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.