This is absolutely disgusting to me, for so many reasons — and people who support abortion rights should be even more concerned than people who don’t, because this kind of appalling clinic is the sort of shocking story that will be used to revoke those rights.
I know the Powelton neighborhood where it happened, a funky mixed neighborhood on the outer reaches of the University of Penn. (A Thai restaurant popular with students is on the same block, and it’s close by the same public school that Penn faculty kids attend. The mayor’s daughter used to go there.)
It was within a mile of one of the country’s major teaching hospitals.
You know I used to be a medical fraud investigator, and you’ve heard me say that even killing people isn’t enough to get a doctor’s license revoked — because it’s true. It’s almost (but not completely) impossible. Doctors can get away with almost anything, and it sure sounds as if this doctor wasn’t also running an Oxycontin mill, he never would have been arrested.
Read the details: No one wanted to touch it because it was a political hot potato. The PA Department of State didn’t do their jobs — hell, nobody did their jobs, except one lone public health worker who tried to shut him down.
I am a strong supporter of abortion rights, including medically necessary third-trimester abortions. But this? It makes me sick. Using untrained office workers to deliver full-term babies — and then having them use scissors to cut their spinal cords? (One worker played with a newborn baby for twenty minutes before killing it.)
How does this happen? Well, one of the reasons is that politicians have made abortion just difficult enough to get that desperate women will go to cut-rate neighborhood clinics like this. Who wouldn’t rather have a first-trimester abortion in a nice, clean, well-run and affordable clinic? How desperate do you have to be to walk into a place like this, see cats running around the place, smell their urine – and stay anyway?
The other is that any office that performs surgical procedures with general anesthesia needs to be regulated like a hospital. (It’s estimated that unreported deaths from liposuction centers now exceed the number of people who die in car accidents. Think about that.) And you’ve probably heard similar horror stories about the virtually unregulated cosmetic surgery clinics in Miami Beach.
This is what happens when you don’t have strong regulation, and not enough people to enforce it. (And the lack of political will to do so.) This is what happens when a commodity becomes so rare and hard to get, a greed-driven monster can make a fortune doing it.
This a massive human tragedy, and as human beings, we should all denounce it.