“I went to the floor because innocent life is worth defending,” Stutzman tells me. “A monster in Philadelphia — not halfway around the world — murdered newborn babies, preyed on vulnerable women, and stuffed bodies and body parts into the freezer in boxes, bags, and cat-food tins.” The Gosnell trial “should have been front-page news across the nation,” but the mainstream media were largely ignoring it. “The American people deserved to know the truth about it, and I was seeking to raise awareness,” he says. Abortion is such a grave, ugly reality. We mask it “behind convenient euphemisms like ‘choice’ and ‘safe, legal, and rare’ instead of taking a hard look at what abortion really is,” Stutzman observes. “The Gosnell case stripped away all those euphemisms and showed that abortion isn’t safe and it isn’t rare.”
But that day in April when the second-term congressman went to the House floor to talk about Gosnell, he had no idea how personal an issue this was for him. When he phoned his mother a few days later, he learned that she was trying to figure out how to get to an abortion clinic when she was pregnant with him in 1975.
“I could never imagine how this case would change my own life,” Stutzman tells me. “When my mom told me her story — how her house had just burned down, how she was alone and terrified, and how she wanted to find a way to make it 40 miles to get an abortion but couldn’t — we both cried.”
“I can’t help wondering what would have happened if there was a Gosnell clinic four miles away instead of 40,” he reflects. “How many fathers, wives, teachers, doctors and public servants are missing today because of abortion?”
“We have to stand for life, for babies and for young women like my mom,” Stutzman says. “While Planned Parenthood talks about ‘choice,’ the sad reality is that the abortion business depends on women who feel like they don’t have another option. We need to show compassionate action and offer help to the women who find themselves in an unimaginably hard situation.”
And in the wake of the Gosnell verdict we cannot be satisfied with moving on or even simply knowing that Congress has now sent out fact-finding letters to state attorneys generals and health officials for the purpose of investigating what’s happening in abortion clinics across the nation.
CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "Abortion clinics are the most unregulated industry in the U.S. Most do not have doors wide enough to get a stretcher through in an emergency, lack resuscitation equipment and don’t get true informed consent. The doctors doing the abortions fail to follow up with their patients or take care of their complications. Women have no choice – they put their life in danger when they walk into an abortion clinic. Abortion federations are complicit in what happened at Gosnell’s clinic. They resist and attack anyone who advocates regulating or inspecting abortion clinics. The many red flags over decades should have brought greater scrutiny to Gosnell’s activities.
- The clinic was given approval to open in 1979, but there was no inspection
by the Pennsylvania Department of Health until 1989. They found no trained
nurses and multiple other violations but left with only Gosnell’s promise to
- They didn’t visit again for three years and found all the same problems …
and again let his practice continue.
- In 1993, the Pa. Dept. of Health instituted a policy of no inspection of
abortion clinics unless there was a complaint. They feared a reduction in
abortion clinics in the state.
- In 1996, a complaint was filed due to a perforated uterus. No action taken.
- In 1997, Dr. Schwartz, head of adolescent services at Children’s Hospital,
hand-delivered a complaint that contended that patients referred to Gosnell’s
clinic were contracting Trichomoniasis due to unsterilized instruments. No
- In 2002, a former employee complained of anesthesia administrated by
unlicensed personnel, flea-infested cats roaming the clinic, a broken autoclave
and re-used disposable instruments. Gosnell also reportedly ate his lunch in the
procedure rooms. No action taken.
- Later that year, a patient died from a perforated uterus and septicemia,
resulting in a $900,000 civil settlement. No action taken.
- In 2003, a complaint contended that aborted fetuses were stored in paper
bags. No action taken.
- A total of 46 lawsuits were filed against Gosnell over 32 years.
"Planned Parenthood abandoned their early tack of defending the indefensible Gosnell and instead claimed he was an aberration and should be punished. The truth is that there are probably replications of Gosnell-like horrors all across the country, but many abortion rights advocates likely do not want them to be revealed. Until such revelations translate into action, one of the most dangerous things a pregnant woman can do is to walk into an abortion clinic."
- View the acclaimed documentary, "3801 Lancaster," on the Gosnell clinic.
- Read CMA-led strategy paper on abortion clinic health and safety
regulation (members only).
- Read the House Judiciary Committee letter to state attorneys general asking questions about
efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers. Read related
Judiciary Committee press release.
- Read the House Energy and Commerce Committee letter to state public health asking questions about the licensing and monitoring of abortion clinics.
- Write your state representatives and encourage them to introduce women's
health and safety clinic regulation bills similar to the Americans United for
Life model legislation.
- Consider how you can influence your medical specialty college (if specialty
is appropriate) or state medical board to advocate for enactment and enforcement
of health and safety standards in abortion clinics. Read and share model
- To protect your right to decline to participate in abortions, click on our Freedom2Care legislative action alert H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. You will be provided with an easy-to-use, prewritten editable form letter and also more detail on the bill.