While this week’s indictment involving a grisly abortion mill in Philadelphia has shocked many, the grand jury’s nearly 300-page report also contains a surprising and little-noted revelation: In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics—a policy that continued until just last year.
According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.
I’m going to skip the gruesome details of unsanitary conditions, late-term abortions, and murders of live babies. The story continues:
But perhaps most frightening of all? The atrocities were discovered by accident, as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out. Warnings—from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women’s health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic.
The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn’t inspected the place since 1993. Here’s the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:
The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.
“Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the report states.
The rallying cry for the abortion-rights movement is that we cannot go back to the times when illegal abortion resulted in places exactly like this. But we see here that the abortion-rights movement, at least as represented in the PA Department of Health, would rather see places like this exist than erect even a theoretical obstacle to obtaining an abortion.