Eyewitness News has learned that a West Philadelphia doctor, his wife and eight other suspects are now under arrest following a grand jury Investigation.It probably won't surprise any of you that that is not the first time Gosnell has been investigated. In February of last year his license was suspended after a federal raid, in which his office was found to be in "deplorable and unsanitary conditions":
Sources say Dr. Kermit Gosnell faces eight counts of murder in the death of a woman following a botched abortion at his office at 38th and Lancaster Avenues, along with the deaths of seven other babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions and then were killed with scissors.
Four of the suspects, some improperly licensed, also face multiple counts of murder for allegedly killing the newborns.
All of the suspects are now behind bars after warrants were served overnight.
Dr. Gosnell, who has practiced in the West Philadelphia neighborhood for decades, is also the target of a federal grand jury investigation into illegally prescribing prescription drugs.
Investigators say during a search of his home, they found $240,000 in cash.
The doctor, in past interviews with CBS 3, has proclaimed his innocence, predicting if charged, he will be acquitted.
Federal agents have twice raided an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, prompting state authorities to close the facility and suspend the license of the doctor in charge over health and safety risks.
The Pennsylvania Department of State's Board of Medicine said Tuesday that a search of Dr. Kermit Gosnell's abortion and pain management clinic found "deplorable and unsanitary" conditions, blood on the floor, and parts of aborted fetuses in jars.
The temporary suspension of Gosnell's license follows at least two raids at his Family Medical Society by agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI.
We discovered that Pennsylvania's Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.Update III: Ace quoted a portion of the Grand Jury report that revealed Gosnell's abortion mill allowed to run free from any and all state regulatory oversight beginning in 1993, under Governors Bob Casey, Sr. and Tom Ridge (if he has entertained any thoughts of running for president recently, he can drop them right now), for fear that any regulatory oversight would create a barrier to women's access to abortion. Seriously.
The State Legislature has charged the Department of Health (DOH) with responsibility for writing and enforcing regulations to protect health and safety in abortion clinics as well as in hospitals and other health care facilities. Yet a significant difference exists between how DOH monitors abortion clinics and how it monitors facilities where other medical procedures are performed.
Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health's neglect of abortion patients' safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design. ...
State health officials knew that Gosnell and his clinic were offering unacceptable medical care to women and girls, yet DOH failed to take any action to stop the atrocities documented by this Grand Jury. These officials were far more protective of themselves when they testified before the Grand Jury. Even DOH lawyers, including the chief counsel, brought private attorneys with them - presumably at government expense.
The first line of defense was the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The department's job is to audit hospitals and outpatient medical facilities, like Gosnell's, to make sure that they follow the rules and provide safe care. The department had contact with the Women's Medical Society dating back to 1979, when it first issued approval to open an abortion clinic. It did not conduct another site review until 1989, ten years later.
Numerous violations were already apparent, but Gosnell got a pass when he promised to fix them. Site reviews in 1992 and 1993 also noted various violations, but again failed to ensure they were corrected.
But at least the department had been doing something up to that point, however ineffectual.
After 1993, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead the 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 to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be "putting a barrier up to women" seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.
The only exception to this live-and-let-die policy was supposed to be for complaints dumped directly on the department's doorstep. Those, at least, could be investigated. Except that there were complaints about Gosnell, repeatedly. Several different attorneys, representing women injured by Gosnell, contacted the department. A doctor from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia hand-delivered a complaint, advising the department that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease. The medical examiner of Delaware County informed the department that Gosnell had performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl carrying a 30-week-old baby. And the department received official notice that a woman named Karnamaya Mongar had died at Gosnell's hands.
Yet not one of these alarm bells - not even Mrs. Mongar's death - prompted the department to look at Gosnell or the Women's Medical Society. Only after the raid occurred, and the story hit the press, did the department choose to act. Suddenly there were no administrative, legal, or policy barriers; within weeks an order was issued to close the clinic. And as this grand jury investigation widened, department officials "lawyered up," hiring a high-priced law firm to represent them at taxpayer expense. Had they spent as much effort on inspection as they did on attorneys, none of this would have happened to begin with.
But even this total abdication by the Department of Health might not have been
fatal. Another agency with authority in the health field, the Pennsylvania Department of State, could have stopped Gosnell single-handedly. While the Department of Health regulates facilities, the Department of State, through its Board of Medicine, licenses and oversees individual physicians. Like their colleagues at Health, however, Department of State officials were repeatedly confronted with evidence about Gosnell, and repeatedly chose to do nothing.
Indeed, in many ways State had more damning information than anyone else.
Almost a decade ago, a former employee of Gosnell presented the Board of Medicine with a complaint that laid out the whole scope of his operation: the unclean, unsterile conditions; the unlicensed workers; the unsupervised sedation; the underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street. The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an offsite interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.
Shortly thereafter the department received an even more disturbing report - about a woman, years before Karnamaya Mongar, who died of sepsis after Gosnell perforated her uterus. The woman was 22 years old. A civil suit against Gosnell was settled for almost a million dollars, and the insurance company forwarded the information to the department. That report should have been all the confirmation needed for the complaint from the former employee that was already in the department's possession. Instead, the department attorneys dismissed this complaint too. They concluded that death was just an "inherent" risk, not something that should jeopardize a doctor's medical license.
The same thing happened at least twice more: the department received complaints about lawsuits against Gosnell, but dismissed them as meaningless. A department attorney said there was no "pattern of conduct." He never bothered to check a national litigation database, which would have shown that Gosnell had paid out damages to at least five different women whose internal organs he had punctured during abortions.
Apparently, the missing piece in the "pattern" was press coverage. Once that began, after the raid, the department attorney quickly managed to secure a license suspension against Gosnell. Similar inaction occurred at the municipal level. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health does not regulate doctors or medical facilities; but it is supposed to protect the public's health. Philadelphia health department employees regularly visited the Women's Medical Society to retrieve blood samples for testing purposes, but never noticed, or more likely never bothered to report, that anything was amiss. Another employee inspected the clinic in response to a complaint that dead fetuses were being stored in paper bags in the employees' lunch refrigerator. The inspection confirmed numerous violations of protocols for storage and disposal of infectious waste. But no follow-up was ever done, and the violations continued to the end.
A health department representative also came to the clinic as part of a citywide
vaccination program. She promptly discovered that Gosnell was scamming the program; more importantly, she was the only employee, city or state, who actually tried to do something about the appalling things she saw there. By asking questions and poking around, she was able to file detailed reports identifying many of the most egregious elements of Gosnell's practice. It should have been enough to stop him.But instead her reports went into a black hole, weeks before Karnamaya Mongar walked into the Woman's Medical Society.
Ironically, the doctor at CHOP who personally complained to the Pennsylvania Department of Health about the spread of venereal disease from Gosnell's clinic, the doctor who used to refer teenage girls to Gosnell for abortions, became the head of the city's health department two years ago. But nothing changed in the time leading up to Mrs. Mongar's death. And it wasn't just government agencies that did nothing. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and its subsidiary, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, are in the same neighborhood as Gosnell's office. State law requires hospitals to report complications from abortions. A decade ago, a Gosnell patient died at HUP after a botched abortion, and the hospital apparently filed the necessary report. But the victims kept coming in. At least three other Gosnell patients were brought to Penn facilities for emergency surgery; emergency room personnel said they have treated many others as well. And at least one additional woman was hospitalized there after Gosnell had begun a flagrantly illegal abortion of a 29-week-old fetus. Yet, other than the one initial report, Penn could find not a single case in which it complied with its legal duty to alert authorities to the danger. Not even when a second woman turned up virtually dead.
So too with the National Abortion Federation. NAF is an association of abortion providers that upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. Gosnell, bizarrely, applied for admission shortly after Karnamaya Mongar's death. Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell's application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen.
Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.