Pa. tries to shut W. Phila. abortion clinic

The state Health Dept. cited 14 broad categories of problems at Kermit Gosnell’s W. Phila. clinic. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

State health officials are seeking to permanently shut down a West Philadelphia abortion clinic because the doctor who ran it has not responded to their charges.

The rambling, three-story structure, at 3801 Lancaster Ave., has been closed since Feb. 22 after a raid by federal drug agents and state authorities. At the same time, Kermit Gosnell's medical license was suspended by the state Board of Medicine, which called his clinic's "deplorable and unsanitary" conditions "a clear danger to the public."

In March, the Pennsylvania Department of Health elaborated on those conditions, citing the clinic for more than a dozen violations of state law. These included a lack of equipment and drugs for emergency resuscitation, no easy way to get patients on stretchers out of the building, no backup physician, and under-reporting of second-trimester abortions. Gosnell, 69, was also accused of delaying a report to the state of a patient who went into cardiac arrest Nov. 19 and died.

Each violation is grounds for yanking the clinic's approval to do abortions and for imposing fines.

Gosnell was ordered to respond within 30 days, by April 12.

He signed postal receipts certifying he received the order, according to the state. His Philadelphia lawyer, William J. Brennan, said last month that "we're in the process of reviewing the counts, and we'll address them in the appropriate time frame."

On Wednesday, Brennan said he represented Gosnell only in criminal matters, and couldn't reach his client to ask about the Health Department order.

When the department received no response, it asked the administrative judge who was to hear the case to find Gosnell guilty by default.

Gosnell was notified that the state was asking for a default judgment and given until April 30 to respond, but again he did not do so, department spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said Wednesday.

Kriedeman could not say how soon a judgment would be issued.

Gosnell is scheduled for a May 20 disciplinary hearing ordered by the state Board of Medicine, which has the power to revoke his medical license.


Contact staff writer Marie McCullough at 215-854-2720 or