House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) have sent a letter to all 50 state attorneys general seeking to find out if state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers and if the federal government might be able to partner with states to prevent newborn homicides. The letter asks the state attorneys general to respond to several questions and to provide copies of any official written procedures or guidance that relate to the gathering of information on, or the prosecution of, newborn homicides by June 1, 2013.
This letter follows the shocking allegations against Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with the serial murder of infants, the murder of a female patient, and other felonies committed in the operation of his abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The grand jury report found that in Pennsylvania, numerous state and city regulatory agencies failed to adequately prevent violations of the law under a situation the report calls "regulatory collapse."
Below are excerpts from the letter. A copy of one of the letters can be found here.
"By now you are surely aware of the trial of Kermit Gosnell. The Pennsylvania Department of Health, whose job it is to monitor facilities like Gosnell's, conducted sporadic site reviews between 1979 and 1993, citing various violations. But for "political reasons' the Department of Health decided to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all in 1993.
"We have all been shocked by the tragedy in Pennsylvania, and we know many states have strong laws to protect against these types of murders. We are simply writing to gather information about these laws and to see how the federal government might partner with states to help prevent similar atrocities.
"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. As federal officeholders, we too have an obligation to find out whether newborn infants--who are unquestionably persons under the law, regardless of one's views on abortion--are being denied their most basic civil rights. We are seeking to find out if state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers by legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government's power to address."
A copy of the one of the letters can be found in PDF format below: