A bill passed by the state House and Senate last week will ensure stricter abortion regulations in Pennsylvania following the court case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a man accused by a grand jury of running a “baby charnel house” at his abortion clinic.
“What this [bill] does is require unannounced inspections and a higher level of standards of care for patient safety to help protect women and children that are being treated in abortion clinics,” said Representative Matt Baker of Wellsboro, who introduced the bill.
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill, which will require abortion facilities to uphold the same expectations as all other outpatient surgical facilities in the state.
Expectations include the use of anesthesia, the installation of hospital-grade elevators, driveways and parking lots equipped for ambulances, and larger operating rooms.
Critics argue that the expenses imposed by the bill would force some clinics out of business, thus forcing women to resort to dangerous abortion methods.
The state’s House voted 151-44 for the bill last Tuesday, while the Senate voted 32-18 in favor of the bill on Wednesday.
The legislation comes months after the investigation of Gosnell, who is being charged with running a “house of horrors” abortion clinic at the Women’s Medical Center in West Philadelphia. After a raid in Feb. 2010, federal authorities allegedly found fetal body parts in jars and blood-stained equipment at the Pennsylvania facility.
Gosnell could face the death penalty after being charged with killing seven infants born alive and one woman due to a botched abortion. A capital grand jury has been scheduled for March 2013.
“Pennsylvania is not a Third World country,” read a grand jury report released after the investigation in January.
“There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago,” the grand jury report read.
Under Pennsylvania law, abortions are illegal after 24 months of pregnancy. According to District Attorney Seth Williams, Gosnell induced labor, delivered the babies, then “snipped” their spinal cords.
Many argue that the Gosnell case reflects the relaxed regulation of the state health department, which allegedly missed routine visits to abortion clinics.
“What needs to be done is regulators, whether on the local or state or federal level, need to properly regulate, inspect and do their jobs,” Spokesman Kevin Harley said, according to The Associated Press.