Pa. firings, policy changes in wake of Gosnell case

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is making 18 changes to Health and State department policies following an investigation into why state inspectors ignored warning signs about a Philadelphia abortion clinic where a doctor allegedly killed viable infants.

    Corbett called the state regulators’ failure to follow up on complaints about Kermit Gosnell’s clinic “despicable.” His administration has fired six state workers, and action is pending against eight others.

    “People died because people did not a) follow the law, and agencies of government did not do their job and inspect to protect those individuals,” said Corbett at an afternoon press conference.

    Those fired include acting Secretary of State Basil Merenda, Health Department chief counsel Christine Dutton and Deputy Health Secretary Stacy Mitchell.

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    Corbett’s new policies will require annual inspections of abortion clinics, and the public posting of the reports on the Department of Health website. Regulators will be required to review complaints of serious events at any clinic within 48 hours of an initial report, and then visit the facility within five business days.

    Corbett also ordered the Health and State departments to share information on a monthly basis and work toward conducting joint investigations of facilities.

    “We boiled it down to this: People need to do their jobs. It’s not enough to prosecute the wrong-doing. We need to change the culture. That starts here. That starts now,” he said.

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who brought the charges against Gosnell and oversaw the grand jury report that faulted state inspectors’ failure to act, put out the following statement: “I applaud the governor for his quick and decisive actions. While my office is addressing the criminal activity charged in this case, Governor Corbett’s leadership is holding people within state government accountable, and making critical changes to protect the health, welfare and safety of our citizens. Hopefully women across the Commonwealth will be better protected because of his actions.”

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