The parallels between Kermit Gosnell’s “house of horrors” in Philadelphia and Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington clinic are too numerous to ignore. Most people think Gosnell an anomaly among abortion providers. They are ignoring a growing body of evidence to the contrary. Untrained staff, filthy equipment, unsterilized and reused instruments, complete lack of oversight by any governing agency, and abusive, contemptuous doctors are more the norm in freestanding abortion clinics than the public is willing to admit.
The media’s failure to cover these atrocities and the Department of Health’s failure to investigate documented abuses are bad enough, but when combined with Planned Parenthood’s influence on government policy and funding, they perpetuate a deadly ignorance. Gosnell and eight of his employees are accused of murder, including the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a 41 year-old Bhutan immigrant, who was alleged to be over-sedated by untrained staff during an abortion at his Women’s Medical Society clinic. Five medical emergencies necessitated hospital visits for Planned Parenthood of Delaware clients in a five week period, from early February to mid-March, 2013. From the 911 transcripts, injuries included excessive bleeding, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.
Testimony at the Gosnell trial and whistleblowing by two former employees at Wilmington’s Planned Parenthood facility are eerily familiar. Horrific evidence of filthy conditions at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society clinic clash with the public’s image of abortion as a safe, sanitary medical procedure. At Gosnell’s trial, equipment taken directly from the clinic couldn’t be ignored, placed as it was in front of the jury. An outdated, corroded ultrasound machine, caked with dust stood next to ripped, stained surgery beds that looked like they were decades old. So offensive was the sight that Judge Rinehart asked if they could be covered. They stood in mute, incontrovertible testimony for four weeks.
Witness after witness has revealed a litany of abuses, expanding grotesquely on the Grand Jury’s report: “The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.”
But that could never happen at a Planned Parenthood facility, could it? Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich and Joyce Vasikonis, former employees who feared losing their nurses’ licenses if they continued working at the Wilmington Planned Parenthood facility, told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia recently of a “meat-market style of assembly-line abortions where the abortionist refused to wear gloves, surgical instruments were reused without being cleaned, and “bloody drainage” remained on abortion tables between procedures, exposing women to blood-borne diseases.”
“It was just unsafe. I can’t tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was,” said Mitchell-Werbrich. She also worried that that women could be at risk of contracting hepatitis or AIDS.
Gosnell employed untrained staff to do abortions, administer drugs, and perform functions intended only for licensed professionals. Former staffer, Steven Massof, testified that Gosnell frequently had food in the procedure room and talked on the phone while he performed late term abortions.
At Planned Parenthood of Delaware, the clinic recently paid a $3,060 fine – reduced from $5,100 – in an informal settlement with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two violations related to blood-borne pathogens. One violation was related to employee training, another – considered serious – was related to employee exposure to contaminated needles. Among the complaints they investigated were: “eating and drinking are allowed in work areas where there is reasonable likelihood of occupational exposure; contaminated medical equipment is not decontaminated as necessary; employees exposed to potentially infectious materials are not provided with and/or required to wear appropriate, protective personal equipment.”
Untrained, unlicensed, and callously unconcerned staff at Gosnell’s clinic failed to follow any semblance of proper medical procedure. At Planned Parenthood of Delaware, accusations from Mitchell-Werbrich’s report reveal improper counseling of patients, procedures performed without properly signed consent forms, failure to follow state mandated parental consent laws, untrained staff and little training available for sterile technique, and lapses in mandated follow-up care.
Doctors at both clinics specialized in assembly-line abortions, often treating patients with contempt or abusing them outright. Tina Baldwin, a staff member at Women’s Medical Society, testified that she saw Gosnell “slap a woman on the thigh.” According to Mitchell –Werbrich, she observed the same behavior from Dr. Timothy Liveright, abortionist at Planned Parenthood. In a written statement documenting his bizarre behavior, she said, “Dr. Liveright struck the patient’s right lateral thigh with force with his opened hand, stating, ‘Breathe!’” It was during 2012 that Mitchell-Werbrich submitted her observations to management at Planned Parenthood of Delaware, who did nothing.
The laissez-faire attitude towards abortion clinic oversight by authorities who could have prevented so much suffering and death is despicable. Gosnell slipped through the hands of federal, state, and city regulators into a black hole of apathy, ultimately protected by the abortion industry’s unprecedented and unchallenged ability to police itself. Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich followed every avenue she could to bring the abuses she observed to the correct authorities, knocking on door after door. The result? In December, 2012, the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, after a cursory visit to the facility, declared the case closed, citing it “could not find Dr. Liveright in violation of the Medical Practice Act.” The Delaware Department of Health stated they found no evidence to support the claims of Vasikonis and Mitchell-Werbrich. The response from the Department of Labor’s OSHA department to Mitchell-Werbrich’s complaint is telling. “Planned Parenthood of Delaware has advised me that the hazards you complained about have been investigated…With this information, OSHA feels the case can be closed on the grounds that the hazardous conditions(s) have been corrected.” Such outrageous and callous indifference breed Gosnells of the future.
One look at the state of Delaware’s regulations for nail and hair salons makes one wonder how abortion clinics, with a long history of abuses in the United States, are allowed to go entirely unregulated. Both the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia and Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington facility were caught in shocking, high profile exposes, no thanks to any medical authorities, who had all the evidence they needed. In Philadelphia, illegal prescription of drugs was the premise for knocking down Gosnell’s doors. In Delaware, a videoed attack of a pro-life grandmother outside Planned Parenthood’s clinic sparked a series of events that led the two former employees to go public with their findings.
One clinic is closed. The other has halted surgical abortions after cleaning house – Liveright and several other employees are gone with the wind. According to Planned Parenthood of Delaware Director Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, “We have made some modifications to our clinical hours for the next several weeks so that we can orient and fully train new staff.” How reassuring, like Gosnell painting the clinic walls before a visit from the National Abortion Federation, who refused him membership.
Shamefully, both the Gosnell trial and the exposure of Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s many abuses have received scant media coverage. The local Wilmington News Journal ignored numerous urgings by prolifers to investigate the allegations against the clinic, something Wendy Saltzman of ABC-6 News in Philadelphia undertook, breaking the story wide open and forcing the News Journal to play catch-up. Unfortunately, like the major media outlets who have turned a blind eye to the Gosnell trial, the local media have buried the more flagrant offenses under bland statements plucked from Planned Parenthood press releases.
Planned Parenthood will find another “doctor” to do surgical abortions; more staff will be “trained,” and abortion will be “safe” again. Until the next medical emergency. Count on it.