Shocked by the horrifying details in the Philadelphia trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, two powerful House committees on Thursday urged state attorneys general to swiftly review laws governing abortion clinics to assure the civil rights of newborns are being protected.
Letters from the House Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee also offered to "partner" with all 50 states to bolster rules to protect newborns and their mothers from the types of abortion clinic techniques revealed in the Gosnell trial and suspected in other clinics around the nation.
The House Judiciary Committee letter from Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks asked state officials to detail the laws governing the prosecution of newborn homicides by June 1.
"We have all been shocked by the tragedy in Pennsylvania, and we know many states have strong laws to protect against these types of murders. We are simply writing to gather information about these laws and to see how the federal government might partner with states to help prevent similar atrocities," said their letter.
A jury is considering the charges against Gosnell, charged with the serial murder of infants and a female patient. The committee's letter said that the Gosnell grand jury report found "numerous state and city regulatory agencies failed to adequately prevent violations of the law under a situation the report calls 'regulatory collapse.' "
"We presume that each of you, upon learning of the failures highlighted by the Gosnell trial, have considered what your state governments are doing to ensure that similar crimes could not be perpetrated in your state. As federal officeholders, we too have an obligation to find out whether newborn infants — who are unquestionably persons under the law, regardless of one's views on abortion — are being denied their most basic civil rights. We are seeking to find out if state and local governments are being stymied in their efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers by legal or financial obstacles that are within the federal government's power to address," the Judiciary duo wrote.
Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn said, "Planned Parenthood called Gosnell's 'House of Horrors' an 'outlier,' but we're learning Gosnell is not an aberration: approached by women who complained about the disgusting conditions at Gosnell's facility, they didn't report it. When the Pennsylvania Department of Health found out about Gosnell they sat on their hands and the media was silent. Now we're discovering that other big abortion businesses refuse to give medical treatment to babies who survive botched abortions and we're finding out the truth from former pro-choice nurses who called their own Gosnell-like clinics 'ridiculously unsafe' where 'meat-market style of assembly-line abortions' happen. Oversight and enforcement are desperately needed so we can help stop these Gosnell scenarios from continuing."
Sources told Secrets that the House may eventually hold hearings on state abortion policies.
Lila Rose, a pro-life activist and founder of the pro-life group Live Action that has been probing other abortion clinic practices, told Secrets, "In order to put an end to the atrocities and human rights abuses going on inside America's abortion centers, Congress must move forward with hearings to learn more about the threat to women and babies resulting from the gruesome practices taking place in the abortion industry. Babies are being slaughtered and women are being put in harm's way. There must be a thorough review of our nation's laws and regulations when it comes to abortion and the destruction of human life and the dangerous threat to women."
The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List also urged Congress to probe further.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, "Congress must address the multi-state breakdown of oversight in the abortion industry as well as the barbarism of abortions performed on children capable of feeling pain and surviving outside the womb. Congress must address its role in protecting the human rights of children late in pregnancy. The few, mere inches that separate a child in the womb from a child outside the womb should never determine whether its intentional 'demise' is permitted by law. Americans overwhelmingly oppose late-term abortions, and the law should follow their instinctive resistance to this dehumanizing and degrading practice."