Troubled Harrisburg Abortion Center Closed

Hillcrest closed sign 2017

Photo credit: Undefeated Courage

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

The sign on the door says it all—the troubled Hillcrest abortion facility in Harrisburg is closed until further notice.

The PA Department of Health ordered Hillcrest to suspend operations after a surprise inspection June 5th uncovered new safety violations.

“The department concluded that it was no longer safe for the facility to continue providing medical services to women,” said PA Health Department Secretary Karen Murphy

Several Pennsylvania state Senators recently sent a letter to the Secretary of the PA Department of Health, asking why the abortion center’s license had not been revoked.

The letter followed the release of a 44-page document noting the health and safety failures of the long-time abortion operation.

Violations included everything from failing to maintain proper medical credentials to maintaining supplies that were 13 years old. Hillcrest also performed a number of abortions without having a nurse present. In addition, staff members failed to undergo the criminal background checks mandated for seeing patients under 18 years old.

Hillcrest’s troubles date back at least six years, when the abortion outfit was first cited for safety failures. The abortion center has been cited four times since, with the latest report suggesting that the violations have become more egregious.

Pennsylvania passed a law in 2011 requiring abortion facilities to meet basic health and safety standards. The law was a response to the massive tragedy in West Philadelphia, where abortionist Kermit Gosnell was ultimately convicted of killing three full-term babies and causing the death of a female immigrant patient, Karnamaya Mongar.


Senators Demand Answers for Failed Inspection at Abortion Facility


By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

A trio of Pennsylvania state Senators are asking why the license of a Pennsylvania abortion operation was not revoked, once serious health and safety violations were uncovered.

Senators Joe Scarnati, Bob Mensch, and John DiSanto have sent a letter to Health Department Secretary Karen Murphy which states, “The DOH inspection report portrays a facility which is clearly unsafe and unhealthy for both patients and staff alike. Given this, we would like an explanation as to why DOH did not immediately move to suspend or revoke Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center’s license upon finding such numerous egregious violations.”

State health officials have cited Hillcrest for the fourth time in six years for violating Pennsylvania law. The violations run the gamut, from failing to have proper medical credentials to performing abortions without a nurse present. Staff members failed to complete the criminal background checks necessary for dealing with patients under 18 years old. Some supplies were so outdated they could be traced back to 2004.

The Senators note, “These health and safety violations are obviously deeply troubling. However, even more problematic appears to be DOH’s response, which was to allow the abortion clinic to continue operating while granting Hillcrest a six month grace period to correct the cited ‘deficiencies.’”

In 2011 Pennsylvania enacted an abortion center regulations law requiring abortion facilities to undergo unannounced inspections. The legislation grew out of the massive tragedy in West Philadelphia, where abortionist Kermit Gosnell killed living full-term babies and caused the deaths of female patients in a squalid facility labeled a “House of Horrors” by prosecutors.

The law was designed to prevent “future Gosnells” from setting up shop in Pennsylvania. But some legislators now worry the law is not being sufficiently enforced, as evidenced by Hillcrest’s long trail of troubles.

Inspection Uncovers Numerous Safety Violations at Harrisburg Abortion Center

HillcrestBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

In the shadow of the state Capitol, a Harrisburg abortion center which has operated for decades has accumulated a myriad of health and safety violations.

The revelations can be found in an inspection report for the “Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center” posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website here.

The number and breadth of violations are truly alarming. No full-time person was in charge of operating the facility. No registered nurse was on duty to assist patients before and after at least 55 abortions had been performed. The facility failed to document the name and dosage of anesthesia used on a number of patients.

In addition, Hillcrest failed to secure drug samples—a dangerous situation. A February tour of the facility revealed a number of outdated medication and supplies.
The procedure room had swabs for sexually transmitted diseases that had expired 13 years before. Inspectors found needles and syringes in paper wrapping that had deteriorated and were yellow with age.

Investigators also determined that Hillcrest violated the state Child Protective Services law.  That law requires that employees who have “significant likelihood of regular contact with children in the form of care, guidance, supervision or training” must obtain three background checks: one from the Pennsylvania State Police, one from the Department of Human Services, and one from the FBI.

Inspectors reviewed medical records, personnel files, and conducted staff interviews. They found that, even though Hillcrest saw patients under the age of 18, “background checks were not completed for employees.”

The egregious safety violations at Hillcrest show the importance of Pennsylvania’s abortion center regulation law, which ensures regular inspections of abortion facilities. Pennsylvania simply cannot depend on abortion facilities to police themselves.