A History of Neglect at West Philly Abortion Factory

A timeline of events in the case against Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Feb. 2, 2011

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Following the 2010 raid on Kermit Gosnell’s medical practice, a year-long investigation—including interviews of 58 witnesses—culminated in a 281-page grand jury report published in January 2011. The report documents not only Gosnell’s alleged crimes, but how a lack of government oversight failed to stop them sooner. Here’s a timeline of events cited in the report, and what followed.

Editor's note: Updated April 2012 to include events in the case subsequent to publication of the grand jury report. (Read more here.)

Dec. 20, 1979: Pennsylvania Department of Health (DoH) grants first approval for the Women’s Medical Society to provide abortions.

Dec. 20, 1980: Approval expires.

August 1989: Next documented site review. Site reviewers recommend approval despite shoddy recordkeeping and lack of nursing staff, among other violations.

March 1992: Next inspection. “There is nothing to suggest that these evaluators reviewed any patient files.” Nevertheless, evaluators Janice Staloski and Sara Telencio “inexplicably concluded that there were no deficiencies,” and DoH approved Gosnell’s clinic to continue to perform abortions.

April 8, 1993: The last inspection of Gosnell’s clinic—or any clinic in the state of Pennsylvania—conducted by DoH until after the raid on Gosnell’s clinic in February 2010.

July 23, 1993:
Susan Mitchell recorded that the clinic’s deficiencies had been corrected despite no follow-up.

1996: An attorney informs state Home Health Division that “his client had suffered a perforated uterus, requiring a radical hysterectomy, as a result of Gosnell’s negligence.”

1996–1997: Dr. Don Schwarz, then a private practice physician (now Philadelphia’s health commissioner), hand-delivers a complaint to the DoH after noticing his patients contracted a sexually transmitted parasite after being referred to Gosnell’s practice, according to Schwarz.

March 2000: 22-year-old Semika Shaw dies at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after being treated by Gosnell.

December 2001: Former Gosnell employee Marcella Stanley Choung filed a complaint with the Department of State outlining his entire operation, including the alleged “pill mill.” Despite a follow-up interview on March 4, 2002, which included Choung’s testimony that Gosnell performed abortions on “underage children” against their will and that unlicensed employees were administering anesthesia, “No one asked to see the facility or the files.”

2003: Philadelphia Health Department’s Environmental Engineering Section failed to follow through on complaints about aborted fetuses stored in the employee refrigerator.

April 29, 2004: A State Board of Medicine attorney recommends closing the case on Choung’s allegations.

May 7, 2004: City health department inspector checks clinic based on awareness that Gosnell has no medical waste plan for biohazard disposal. Later, Schwarz tells the grand jury that the system was designed to make money.

Aug. 2, 2005: Attorney William Newport of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs is notified that Gosnell is not carrying liability insurance. According to the DoS, Gosnell was not insured at all between July 15, 2004, and April 18, 2005.

September 2005: An attorney for a victim called “Alice” sent a copy of a malpractice suit to the DoS that alleged that during a procedure, she convulsed, fell off the table and struck her head. Gosnell was not insured at the time of procedure.

May 4, 2006: Board of Medicine attorney David Grubb recommends closing the “Alice” case without investigation or prosecution. His supervisor agrees.

Nov. 11, 2006: Victim Dana Hayes alleges that Gosnell botched an abortion; recklessly tore her cervix, uterus and bowel; and locked her family members out for four hours, refusing to call an ambulance as she bled. She filed a civil malpractice suit. The grand jury later found: “No one [at DoS] thought Ms. Hayes’ complaint was worth investigating.”

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4
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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 2, 2011 at 11:32AM

“no 2011 activity?”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:56PM

“It is atrocious as to the way the proverbial ball was dropped on this case. Every so called "official" from state and city governments to attorneys were negligent in carrying out their duties. They should be prosecute dfor gross neglect along with Gosnell...”

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3. Jungleface said... on Feb 4, 2011 at 04:37PM

“Why am I not surprised this happened in Philadelphia? Why? Because Philadelphia is SHITE. DOH? Uhhh, yeah. Whatever.”

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4. Heather said... on Apr 18, 2013 at 11:33PM

“EVERYONE from attorneys, employees from the DOS, gosnell's office and from the DOH (except Lori Matijkiw and the ex-employee) should be held accountable for negligence and for not following simple rules of conduct and procedures for inspections. This is absolutely DISGUSTING that this man got away with this for so long -right under everyones nose-. I am pro-abortion to an extent IF its early enough. I think the three month cut off is even to long, I believe it should be more like 2 months and I also feel you should not be allowed more then 2 abortions in a life time. People make mistakes and you should learn better after the first time, the second time is your fault considering all of the birth control options we have now a days but some people need an extra lesson to learn. Regardless it should be your own decision, it is your life and its not for any of us to take that option away however its men like this that give abortions such a bad rep. (not that there good). so very disgusted.”

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