Workers fired after abortion scandal
Some Pennsylvania state employees have been fired and two agencies have overhauled regulations following allegations that a doctor performed illegal late-term abortions that killed a Virginia woman and several viable infants, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Tuesday.
The announcement came less than one month after Dr. Kermit Gosnell and eight employees were charged with killing seven babies born alive. Gosnell was also charged in the death of Karnamaya Mongar of Woodbridge at his West Philadelphia clinic.
Mongar, 41, had fled Bhutan and had survived nearly 20 years in camps in Nepal. She was referred to Gosnell by a clinic in Virginia that didn’t do second-trimester abortions.
Prosecutors said hundreds of babies died in Gosnell’s clinic, and District Attorney Seth Williams called it a “house of horrors.” A grand jury report said Gosnell “murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”
“Laws are already on the books that should have prevented this situation,” Corbett said. “The correction needs to take place inside the two agencies assigned to oversee them, so my administration has drawn up a set of guidelines or protocols.”
Corbett said that four attorneys and two supervisors at the departments of State and Health -- which was not performing systematic checks of the state’s abortion clinics for more than a decade before Gosnell’s clinic was raided last year -- were either fired or resigned on Friday. Eight other employees involved in the internal investigation remain on the state payroll. Others had previously resigned, he said.
“This doesn’t even rise to the level of government run amok,” Corbett said. “It was government not running at all. To call this unacceptable doesn’t say enough. It’s despicable.”
Corbett said the Department of State, which licenses medical professionals, has changed how it handles complaints and now requires more detailed reports. It also will train lawyers on investigative procedures, rules and regulations, and on how to prosecute complaints, he said.
At the Department of Health, yearly inspections are now mandatory and the results will be posted on the state website.
An attorney who filed a malpractice lawsuit for Mongar’s family said the governor’s moves are a step in the right direction, though they come “too late for my client and for many others.”
“I do applaud his efforts because they certainly appear to be comprehensive and well thought out, with provisions for additional changes, regulations and procedures,” attorney Bernard Smalley told The Associated Press.
Associated Press and Maggie Fazeli Fard
| February 16, 2011; 9:54 AM ET
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