All Americans, on either side of the abortion debate, should support elevating the health and safety of women.
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt this week, a case challenging a Texas law that requires the abortion industry to follow commonsense health and safety regulations.
Passage of the Texas bill was spurred by the discovery of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the now infamous late-term abortionist who ran a filthy “house of horrors” in Philadelphia before he was convicted of murder.
The details of that case help explain why Texas (and other states) are requiring abortion facilities to meet the same basic cleanliness, safety, and staffing requirements as similar outpatient surgery facilities and ensuring doctors performing abortions can admit and care for patients in a hospital if something goes wrong.
Gosnell’s ‘Filthy’ Facility and Incompetent Staff
On May 13, 2013, just a few weeks before the Texas legislature would pass H.B. 2, a Philadelphia jury convicted late-term abortionist Gosnell of first degree murder of three infants born alive after botched abortions and involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 41 year-old Karnamaya Mongar.
The almost 300-page grand jury report published in 2011 describes Gosnell as someone who “under the pretext of providing medical care, routinely killed viable babies and irreparably damaged women.”
The grand jury report describes Gosnell’s clinic as a “wretched, filthy space”, where “[d]irty facilities; unsanitary instruments; an absence of functioning monitoring and resuscitation equipment; the use of cheap, but dangerous, drugs; illegal procedures; and inadequate emergency access for when things inevitably went wrong, all put patients at grave risk – every day.”
In addition to outdated equipment, “[s]uction tubing, which was used for abortion procedures – and doubled as the only available suction source for resuscitation – was corroded.” Prosecutors noted the facility was marked by “blood-splattered floors, and blood-stained chairs in which patients waited for and then recovered from abortions.”
Many of Gosnell’s staff were “unlicensed and untrained” in the work they performed on mostly low-income women in Philadelphia, including a then-15 year old girl who sometimes assisted in abortion procedures and administered prescription drugs to patients.
The Death of Karnamaya Mongar
Gosnell’s lack of concern for his patients, woefully inadequate staff, dangerous facility, and illegal use of prescription drugs came to a head in the tragic death of Karnamaya Mongar, a recent immigrant to the United States.
On Nov. 19, 2009, Mongar was given large and repeated doses of multiple sedative drugs in preparation for a late-term abortion procedure at Gosnell’s clinic. A few hours after first being administered the drugs, staff noticed that she was unresponsive but did not call 911.
Gosnell failed to provide life-saving drugs and delayed calling 911 without any justification. When paramedics finally arrived, they attempted to resuscitate Mongar and take her to a hospital. But, as the grand jury report details, Mongar’s “slim chances of survival were seriously hampered because it was exceedingly difficult for responders to get her to the waiting ambulance. The emergency exit was locked…. After cutting the locks, responders had to waste precious more minutes trying to maneuver through the narrow cramped hallways that could not accommodate a stretcher.”
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