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Old 01-20-2011, 06:04 PM   #63
Dr. Broncenstein
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Here is another excerpt from that report, around page 148:

Since February 2010, Department of Health officials have reinstituted regular
inspections of abortion clinics – finding authority in the same statute they used
earlier to justify not inspecting.
Staloski blamed the decision to abandon supposedly annual inspections of
abortion clinics on DOH lawyers, who, she said, changed their legal opinions and advice
to suit the policy preferences of different governors. Under Governor Robert Casey, she
said, the department inspected abortion facilities annually. Yet, when Governor Tom
Ridge came in, the attorneys interpreted the same regulations that had permitted annual
inspections for years to no longer authorize those inspections. Then, only complaintdriven inspections supposedly were authorized. Staloski said that DOH’s policy during
Governor Ridge’s administration was motivated by a desire not to be “putting a barrier up
to women” seeking abortions.
Brody confirmed some of what Staloski told the Grand Jury. He described a
meeting of high-level government officials in 1999 at which a decision was made not to
accept a recommendation to reinstitute regular inspections of abortion clinics. The
reasoning, as Brody recalled, was: “there was a concern that if they did routine
inspections, that they may find a lot of these facilities didn’t meet [the standards for
getting patients out by stretcher or wheelchair in an emergency], and then there would be
less abortion facilities, less access to women to have an abortion.”
Brody testified that he did not consider the “access issue” a legal one. The
Abortion Control Act, he told the Grand Jurors, charges DOH with protecting the health
and safety of women having abortions and premature infants aborted alive. To carry out
this responsibility, he said, DOH should regularly inspect the facilities. 148
Nevertheless, the position of DOH remained the same after Edward Rendell
became governor. Using the legally faulty excuse that the department lacked the authority
to inspect abortion clinics, Staloski left them unmonitored, presumably with the
knowledge and blessing of her bosses, Deputy Secretary Stacy Mitchell and a succession
of Secretaries of Health. The department continued its do-nothing policy until 2010,
when media attention surrounding the raid of the Gosnell clinic exposed the results of
years of hands-off “oversight.” Now, once again, the regulations, which have never been
modified, apparently allow for regular inspections. This is, and always was, the correct
position. The state legislature gave DOH the duty to enforce its regulations; the authority
and power to do so are implicit in that duty. The department abandoned this
responsibility without explanation, and without notice to the public or the legislature.
Whatever its motivation, DOH’s deliberate policy decision not to conduct regular
inspections of abortion clinics did not serve the women of this Commonwealth. Nor did it
protect late-term fetuses or viable babies born alive. The Grand Jury heard testimony
from legitimate abortion providers and from abortion-rights advocates, and not one
indicated that annual inspections would be unduly burdensome. The doctors we heard
from, and the organizations that refer women to abortion providers, told us that the
reputable providers comply with all of the state regulations and more. Annual inspections
are not an issue with them. Many clinics in Pennsylvania are already inspected by NAF,
whose standards are, in many ways, more protective of women’s safety than are the
state’s regulations. 149
Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful
and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor
women, suffer. These are all consequences of DOH’s abdication of its responsibility.
Moreover, even if Staloski was instructed not to conduct regular, annual
inspections, that does not explain why she failed to order inspections when complaints
were received. It is clear to us that she was made aware, numerous times, that serious
incidents had occurred at Gosnell’s clinic. These incidents, which evidenced alarming as
well as illegal long-standing patterns of behavior, warranted investigation. Yet, in all the
years she worked at the department, Staloski never ordered even one inspection.
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