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‘Complete Regulatory Collapse’ Helped Abortion Doc Charged in 8 Murders Keep Operating

Posted Mar 21, 2011 3:42 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Despite multiple complaints about issues ranging from the death of patients to an apparent lack of malpractice insurance at one point, a physician charged with eight murders concerning the Philadelphia abortion clinic he operated was never aggressively pursued by Pennsylvania agencies charged with overseeing health care.

What a grand jury termed a "complete regulatory collapse" helped Dr. Kermit Gosnell continue to operate the facility for many years and has now resulted in the firing or resignation of 11 employees from the Department of State and Department of Health, including an unspecified number of government lawyers, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Complaint after complaint was closed not only without enforcement action but without a full investigation, the newspaper says. Acknowledging that a "failure to perform" by certain workers was a problem, chief counsel Steven Turner of the Department of State said in a March 1 meeting with the state Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee that he had vowed "Never another Gosnell" as his ongoing mantra.

One change that could be made to improve government oversight, says Turner, is to have the same lawyer or lawyers handle all cases against an individual doctor.

Critics also say that state agencies lack enforcement power.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Prosecution to Seek Death Penalty for Abortion Doc Accused of Murdering Woman and 7 Viable Babies"

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