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Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/AP Photo) Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News/AP Photo)  

After Gosnell, GOP lawmakers demand answers from states on abortion regulations

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Republican lawmakers have dispatched letters to all fifty states demanding to know more about the regulation of abortion clinics and enforcement of abortion laws.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee dispatched letters to public health officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, probing the manner in which each state regulates, monitors and protects women in abortion facilities, Wednesday.

“The criminal investigation and trial of Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell of Philadelphia, PA, raises troubling questions about the practices of abortion clinics, and whether state health departments are aware, or even conducting appropriate monitoring, of these facilities,” the letter reads.

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the letter quotes from the grand jury report.

In releasing the letter, Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn criticized the failure of institutions to put a stop to Gosnell’s practices.

“Now we’re discovering that other big abortion businesses refuse to give medical treatment to babies who survive botched abortions and we’re finding out the truth from former pro-choice nurses who called their own Gosnell-like clinics ‘ridiculously unsafe’ where ‘meat-market style of assembly-line abortions’ happen,” the Tennessee congresswoman explained. “Oversight and enforcement are desperately needed so we can help stop these Gosnell scenarios from continuing.”

The letter seeks to uncover by May 22 each state’s abortion licensing, inspection and monitoring procedures, as well as the rules and regulations governing those facilities and providers.

“Other states should be aware of what happened in Pennsylvania and should take strong measures to protect women’s health. We hope that our letter will prompt authorities to take responsible steps to monitor all health care facilities,” Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania added.

A day earlier House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks of Arizona dispatched their own letters to all 50 state attorneys general in reaction to Gosnell’s alleged crimes seeking more information about the potential murder of newborn infants.

“As federal officeholders, we too have an obligation to find out whether newborn infants — who are unquestionably persons under the law, regardless of one’s views on abortion — are being denied their most basic civil rights,” the letter reads in part. “We are seeking to find out if state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers by legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government’s power to address.”

The Republican lawmakers asked to learn by June 1 how prosecutors deal with the killing of infants born alive in attempted abortions, other state laws in that category, the statutes of limitation for such crimes, the prosecution of criminal cases in which a woman dies in the process of an abortion, their states limit on late-term abortions and a list of the abortions that have happened after that limit.

Gosnell is awaiting judgment from a jury on over 250 charges including first degree murder charges in the deaths of four infants born alive in attempted abortions and one third degree charge in the death of a woman who died of a drug overdose during an abortion.

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