Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Senate Hears About Horrific Conditions at Clinic

The State Senate held the first of several hearings into why state regulators ignored warning signs about a West Philadelphia abortion clinic investigators have described as a “house of horrors.”

The hearing was filled with graphic details about Kermit Gosnell’s clinic, where authorities say babies were born alive and then killed. Conditions inside the facility were so bad, according to Philadelphia Homicide Unit Chief Ann Ponterio, that the Grand Jury had to wear hazmat suits during their visit to the clinic.

Ponterio says state regulators share the blame for what happened there. "Despite complaints, repeated complaints over years, they ignored them. The Department of Health and Department of State never once set foot in this clinic. And the grand jury found they didn’t do their jobs. They had the authority and the responsibility, and they chose not to act."

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says police officers and inspectors were shocked at what they saw inside the clinic, which they raided as part of a prescription drug sting. "Bloodstained walls, bloodstained beds and unclean sheets. Women walking around almost in – like zombies. They had been drugged to the state of being zombies."

Health and State officials are expected to testify at future hearings. Several bills are in the works. One would change regulation standards for abortion clinics, and another would force inspectors to visit facilities where complaints have been filed. Gosnell is to appear in court today.

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