PA Legislators Try to Remove Abortion Safeguards

PA Legislators Try to Remove Abortion Safeguards

Legislators in Pennsylvania, supported by Planned Parenthood, are attempting to remove safety regulations from abortion clinics that were established in 2011 to prevent the horrors of former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell from happening again.

Rep. Tarik Khan (D-Philadelphia) hosted a press conference in January at the state capitol to introduce his effort to pass legislation that eliminates Act 122, the Healthcare Facilities Act. Khan and his supporters call the regulations restrictive, unnecessary, baseless and stringent. Khan argues that the requirements restrict access to safe abortion and increase risk to patients.

“Quite frankly, [Act 122] was just another repeated attempt to make abortion inaccessible,” said Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson. “There is no reason to have to have the standards put forth in [Act 122] for a clinic for women’s reproductive health.”

Signe Espinoza, executive director at Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said that Act 122 “has nothing to do with safety, it is rooted in stigma and it is simply an unnecessary barrier to healthcare.”

No one in the press conference mentioned the events that led to the enactment of these requirements.

Act 122 requires abortion clinics to be licensed as ambulatory surgical facilities, and thus to conform to the regulations required of such facilities. These include building specifications that make it possible for women to receive emergency medical attention, such as minimum hallway widths and elevator requirements.

WORLD Radio points out that the requirements of Act 122 arose after the incidents surrounding Gosnell became a national scandal. Gosnell is now in prison for the first-degree murder of at least one woman and multiple viable babies outside of the womb. Many of the horrific details of his case are explained in the Report of the Grand Jury. (Reader discretion is encouraged because of the graphic contents of the report.)

Some of Gosnell’s malpractices included not being physically present at his clinic until around 8 p.m. at times, when many patients began arriving around noon, leaving them waiting. He hired unqualified employees (some as young as 15 years old) and instructed them to administer medications they were neither qualified nor sufficiently trained to administer, such as sedatives, anesthesia and labor-inducing medications. The drugs were cheap and mixed in dangerous cocktails without the specifics of the patient’s health taken into account. Gosnell did not correctly sterilize his equipment, sometimes using tools on women that were visibly soiled from previous patients.

One mother, Karnamaya Mongar—a refugee who could not read the paperwork she signed before being sedated—fell prey to these malpractices. She was given a sedative that is rarely used these days because of health risks and, after a few hours, had stopped breathing. When clinic staff finally noticed her condition, Gosnell, the only medical professional on staff, was not present and had to be called in. During the emergency, the defibrillator could not be used because it was broken.

When paramedics arrived and were able to revive her, it took them more than 20 minutes simply to find a way to get her out of the clinic—the hallways were cluttered and the emergency door was padlocked. Gosnell and his employees lied about the drugs they had used, so the doctors did not know what had happened. Mongar died the next day.

Act 122 does nothing to make abortion less legal in Pennsylvania—it simply places safety regulations on abortion clinics and enacts planned and surprise inspections to ensure the safety of the patients. While proponents for overturning the bill say there is no reason for it to exist, the Gosnell case challenges that narrative.

This effort comes after half of Pennsylvania’s abortion clinics failed health inspections in 2023, one of which failed to report a “serious event” that occurred last March—“likely from a botched abortion,” said the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

Photo: Pa.HouseVideo

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