Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act requires any doctor who treats a woman
because of a complication arising from an abortion to make a report to DOH. Willful
failure to do so constitutes “unprofessional conduct” and subjects the treating doctor to
sanctions by the Board of Medicine. Clearly, this law is being violated, if not willfully, at
We learned of at least five of Gosnell’s patients who were treated for serious
complications at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) or Presbyterian
Hospital, the two closest emergency rooms to the Women’s Medical Society clinic. We
heard evidence of many more women, whose names we did not learn, who also had to
seek emergency care after undergoing abortions at Gosnell’s facility. Yet we received no
complication reports when we subpoenaed documents from DOH.
The attorney representing HUP doctors before the Grand Jury was able to
produce only one confirmed report ever made (which raises the question why DOH did
not turn over this report). That one report was for Semika Shaw, who died at the hospital
in March 2000. Documents turned over to the Grand Jury show that, following Shaw’s
death, another hospital attorney, Mary Ellen Nepps, distributed a memo to doctors at
HUP and Pennsylvania Hospital. The memo reminded the physicians, “in light of some
recent reports of abortion complications and maternal deaths,” that they were responsible
for filing reports with DOH in such cases.
Yet, when Karnamaya Mongar died at HUP nine years later, no report was made.
Nor did the Grand Jury receive evidence of reports made, other than in Shaw’s case, for
any of the serious complications that other patients of Gosnell suffered. Dana Haynes
went straight to the HUP emergency room from Gosnell’s clinic with a perforated cervix
and bowel and most of a fetus still in her uterus. She required surgery and was
hospitalized for five days....
...The issue, however, goes beyond simple compliance with the Abortion Control
Act’s reporting requirement. Based on the evidence we heard regarding state officials’
procedures and practices, it is doubtful that reporting under that act would actually have
triggered any kind of action from the state. Staloski, the DOH director in charge ofabortion facilities, told us that she did not even get – or ask for – complication reports. It
seems that they were treated as statistical information rather than as a means to uncover