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Abortion clinic scrutiny nets issues

When they finally resumed routine inspections of abortion clinics in 2010 after more than 15 years, Pennsylvania health regulators ordered 14 of the state's 22 free-standing clinics to remedy problems, a review of records shows.

But none of those problems remotely approached the filthy and illegal operations described at the now-shuttered Philadelphia women's clinic presided over by a doctor who faces eight counts of murder related to his work there.

The grand jury that investigated Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell, his wife and eight other clinic workers had scathing criticism last week for Pennsylvania's state health and medical regulators for allowing the conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society to exist unchecked for years.

The most common deficiencies found by Health Department inspectors at the other abortion clinics, according to records obtained by the Associated Press, were failures to properly report medical conditions that qualify as "serious events" and not keeping resuscitation equipment readily available. Also cited were failures to test or record levels of urine protein and blood sugar, and issues related to checking on patients in the recovery room after after surgery.

Prosecutors blamed "a complete regulatory collapse" for allowing Gosnell's routine late-term abortions for poor women, mostly minorities.

Prosecutors said that at least two women died and hundreds of fetuses were killed by scissors stabbed into their spines; Gosnell was charged with murder in the deaths of one woman and seven babies born alive.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who took office last week, has asked his nominees for secretaries of health and state to look into the criticism that the state ceased routine inspections for political reasons when Gov. Tom Ridge became governor in 1995, a policy that continued under Govs. Mark S. Schweiker and Edward G. Rendell.

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