Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday sent a letter to public health officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to examine how each state regulates and monitors abortion clinics and protects the health and safety of women. The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell raises troubling questions about the practices of abortion clinics, and whether state health departments are appropriately monitoring these facilities. For example, the Pennsylvania District Attorney investigating Dr. Gosnell found that the Pennsylvania Department of Health deliberately chose not to enforce patient safety laws at abortion clinics -- laws designed to ensure women have the same safeguards as patients of other medical providers. In fact, the report states that nail salons are more closely monitored.
Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) stated, "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. When the Pennsylvania Department of Health found out about Gosnell they sat on their hands and the media was silent. Now we're discovering that other big abortion businesses refuse to give medical treatment to babies who survive botched abortions and we're finding out the truth from former pro-choice nurses who called their own Gosnell-like clinics "ridiculously unsafe' where "meat-market style of assembly-line abortions' happen. Oversight and enforcement are desperately needed so we can help stop these Gosnell scenarios from continuing."
Health Subcommittee Chairman Pitts added, "The trial of Kermit Gosnell has revealed a clinic with conditions straight out of a horror movie. Because oversight of such clinics was virtually non-existent, Gosnell was able to operate dangerously and illegally for years. Other states should be aware of what happened in Pennsylvania and should take strong measures to protect women's health. We hope that our letter will prompt authorities to take responsible steps to monitor all health care facilities."
In the letter to the state health officials, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations and Health Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) requested state officials provide details on state licensing of abortion clinics and providers, information on revoked licenses, state inspections of clinics, whether states monitor complaints or adverse health events related to the procedures, disciplinary action, and rules and regulations on facilities and providers. The committee leaders set a May 22, 2013, deadline for the states to respond.