Lawmaker vows to prevent another Gosnell scenario

    Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said Monday he will introduce a package of bills to change how the state regulates abortion clinics.

    The bills, based on recommendations from the grand jury report on West Philly abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, include a measure to establish mandatory annual inspections of all facilities where abortions are performed. Another measure would require the Department of Health to investigate “serious events” reported at clinics and share those findings with the Department of State.

    Hughes said he will finalize more details in the bills after state officials testify before the Legislature about what went wrong during the Gosnell case. Gosnell is charged with killing a patient and seven viable babies after late-term abortions.

    “We want to try to get to the bottom of it,” Hughes said. “We want to try to fix up any holes that may exist in the system, and then we also want to make sure that this is not going on anywhere else in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

    Carol Tracy, director of the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, called Hughes’ preliminary outline a “strong and appropriate” legislative response to the Gosnell case.

    “The legislation he is proposing and the recommendations from the grand jury really propose patient health, that’s the critical aspect of this,” Tracy said.

    Hughes also aims to create a hotline or online form to make filing complaints against questionable facilities. He also wants to extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting those who perform illegal late-term abortions from two to five years.

    Hushes, who said he is looking for co-sponsors for the bill, said he hopes to get the bills passed into law during this legislative session.

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