HARRISBURG, Feb. 7, 2011 – State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) said today that he is introducing a comprehensive package of legislation in response to the Philadelphia investigative grand jury’s report concerning the now infamous physician who operated a medical clinic in Hughes’ West Philadelphia district.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell was arrested last month after being indicted for numerous crimes, including murder and violations of the Abortion Control Act. Among the charges, Gosnell is accused of causing the death of one of his female patients and killing viable babies born alive in the 6th, 7th and 8th month of pregnancy. The grand jury uncovered not only numerous deficiencies in state law, but also failures by individuals representing all levels of government to implement and carry out their oversight responsibilities under current law.
“The package of legislation is based upon a comprehensive review of the grand jury report and implements a number of recommendations made as a result of the grand jury’s investigation,” Hughes said.
Specifically, Hughes’ legislation would:
Increase the statute of limitations for infanticide and abortions performed after 24 weeks gestational age;
Require annual inspections of medical facilities that provide abortion services and simplify the process for filing a complaint against these facilities with the Department of Health and the Department of State;
Ensure that investigations and inspections are conducted after a medical facility reports a “serious event” and clarify that the Department of Health is authorized to share the results of such an investigation with Department of State or law enforcement; and
Increase penalties for unauthorized practice of medicine.
Hughes said he hopes legislators will examine his proposals in the context of trying to strengthen the law without expanding the scope of the response to include limiting choice for women and additionally hopes these bills will have broad, bi-partisan support.
“While I encourage the district attorney to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent, I also ask that my colleagues in the General Assembly be deliberate and work together to address the deficiencies in current law, without restricting access to quality, reproductive health services for women.”
Hughes said the health care system and government oversight of the system failed in this case.
“This is unacceptable. We must fix holes in the system that allowed this type of activity to occur, and we must ensure this never happens again,” Hughes said. “This proposed legislation is the first step.”