The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 17, 2013

Officials want state to give abortion clinics a close exam

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — A “house of horrors” that led to murder convictions against a Pennsylvania doctor inspired a Raleigh County lawmaker to insist that West Virginia take a long, hard look inside its two abortion clinics.

And Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel for the Family Planning Council of West Virginia, strongly endorses the desire of Delegate Rick Moye.

Moye’s resolution was adopted by the House in the waning moments of the 2013 session but never was taken up in the Senate as time ran out.

Moye, a pro-life Democrat, said his resolution is intended to ask the Department of Health and Human Resources to inspect the two abortion clinics in the state to “make sure there are sanitary conditions, that proper protocols are being followed and to make sure we’re not going to end up with any of the same problems that were discovered in the Pennsylvania case.”

Even so, Moye and Dys agree that the Legislature needs no further signal to launch a scrutiny of the two clinics to see if their practices are up to snuff and guaranteeing the health and safety of women served there.

“Every woman’s life is much more important than the bottom line of the abortion industry,” Dys said Friday.

Moye offered his resolution before Dys sued the Women’s Health Center in Charleston. The resolution was based on the grotesque case against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 72, convicted of three counts of first-degree murder after snipping the spines of infants after botched abortions at his clinic in Philadelphia.

In his suit, filed on behalf of Itai Gravely, the planning center attorney alleged that his client sought to end an abortion after severe abdominal pain developed but the procedure continued, and that the head of her unborn child was left inside the uterus.

Since the Gravely case is in litigation, Moye said he couldn’t address that matter, “but I do know this makes it more important that we take up HCR167 and look into this to see what’s going on in our clinics.”

“The women’s health and the safety of our sisters and our daughters are much more important than the bottom line for a physician or one of the clinics,” he said.

Prosecutors described Gosnell’s clinic as “a house of horrors,” telling a jury that the physician killed infants after they were born, and that he caused the death of a patient as well.

“Are we doing the same things here?” Moye asked.

“Are we re-using medical instruments that are supposed to be thrown away? I’m not saying we are. I’m just saying we need to look at it and make sure that there are sanitary conditions. I would wish there were never any abortions. The very least we can do, if these clinics are going to be doing them, is to make sure that it’s being done in sanitary conditions and proper protocols are followed.”

Dys says he wants lawmakers to exercise care in any study of the abortion industry in the state.

“They can be perceived as creating a political reaction if they hold something in July,” he said.

“If they’re very serious about this, we need to take some careful time to study this over a series of months and lead up to some very good legislation at the beginning of the 2014 session.”

Dys said he understands neither of the abortion clinics has ever been inspected.

“Since 1976, when the doors opened, my understanding is the state has not set foot in there,” he said.

“Yet these clinics, at least the one on the West Side where my client was injured, one-third of its budget is funded by state government. At a minimum, that means we ought to be looking at some sort of Medicaid audit.”

Dys said other clinics across the country are under investigation for potential criminal wrongdoing in Medicaid fraud.

“The abortion industry has created a very difficult situation for itself by taking state dollars because they have to be subject to state taxpayers and held accountable there, too,” he said.

“They’ve done a great job here in the state of West Virginia by avoiding any type of accountability since 1976.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com