In 2007, three representatives from the Delaware Pro-Choice Medical Fund toured Kermit Gosnell’s Womens Medical Society in West Philadelphia. According to a statement from the National Network of Abortion Funds (full statement here), the visitors saw nothing that prevented them from funding abortions there. According to the NNAB,
The Network has reached out to the Delaware Pro-choice Medical Fund and can share the following information about the relationship between the Fund and Dr. Gosnell’s clinic. Three volunteer board members of the Fund toured Gosnell’s clinic in 2007. They were met by Dr. Gosnell and two other doctors as well as some administrative staff. Their tour took place on a day when abortions were not being provided, but other health care services were and the women saw several elderly patients in the waiting room. One of the other doctors, not Gosnell, showed the Fund members around the clinic. Nothing they saw, including the ultrasound room, waiting room, and recovery room, gave them any reason to be concerned about the practices of the clinic. After the tour, the Fund also did some research on Dr. Gosnell on a website that rates doctors and hospitals. On that site they discovered one sanction against another employee at the clinic but it appeared from the information available that the matter had been resolved eleven years prior. The Fund did not consider the one sanction to be sufficient reason to deny help to women obtaining abortion services at the clinic.
The Philadelphia grand jury report noted that Gosnell directed his staff to lie to the Delaware Pro-Choice Medical Fund about the address of women seeking abortion. Apparently, the DPCMF worked directly with clinics rather than giving money to women. Thus, the fund was vulnerable to this kind of fraud.
The statement from NNAF, if it can be taken at face value, illustrates at least one more reason why state government needs to regulate abortion clinics. We already know that the National Abortion Federation observed Gosnell’s clinic and found reasons not to include it in their membership. However, the evaluator told no one about the conditions there and they continued. Now we find that another pro-choice group entered the clinic and didn’t see the problems that others saw.
Apparently the conditions were continuously bad. According to the grand jury, the Philadelphia Health Department visited the clinic in 2007 and found some problems but apparently overlooked others. In fact, the grand jury was surprised that no one reported the other problems.
Health department employees who visited the clinic between 2001 and 2007 recorded that they dealt with “Drs.” O’Neill and Massof, but never Gosnell. These inspectors noted problems with the refrigerator, the clinic’s record-keeping, and expired vaccines. They were apparently oblivious, however, to other obvious deficiencies that did not relate directly to vaccines.
Perhaps Gosnell cleaned up for the visit in ways that would fool untrained people. However, in hindsight, it seems to be an oversight to only do an internet search about Gosnell. According to the NNAF statement, the Delaware group met with Gosnell and two “doctors.” According to the grand jury report, there were no other doctors at the clinic. Instead, two people called doctors at the clinic were not licensed as physicians anywhere. An inquiry of the state medical board would have uncovered that.
In the case of Women’s Medical Society, two private abortion groups visited the clinic with no consequences. The bottom line is this: if the state is not going to regulate abortion clinics, then in essence they will be unregulated.