In the wake of the murder convictions of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit B. Gosnell, Texas state officials are investigating a Houston abortion provider who is accused by former employees of killing born-alive infants, performing illegal late-term abortions and violating other state laws.
Pro-life and pro-choice groups have been arguing strenuously over whether Gosnell, sentenced to three life terms in prison, was an "outlier" in the industry as the Philadelphia trial gained national and international attention. Pro-life advocates were quick to highlight the Texas case Thursday.
Often, "the fetus would come completely out" and "be alive because it was still moving and, of course, you could see the stomach breathing," Deborah Edge said on a video made by Texas-based Life Dynamics and promoted by Operation Rescue. The doctor would kill the baby by snipping its spine, said Ms. Edge, who appeared with two other women in the video.
The women did not name the doctor or his clinic in their video, but state investigators have opened an investigation of Dr. Douglas Karpen and Aaron Women's Clinic in Houston. Dr. Karpen advertises online that he performs late-term abortions — which are legal up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy in Texas.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry "was appalled" by the whole Gosnell case, and was shocked and concerned to hear that it might be happening in Texas, spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said Thursday.
Mr. Perry asked the Texas Department of State Health Services to investigate Dr. Karpen, and that is already underway, she added.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also called for Harris County, Texas, authorities to "perform a full-scale investigation and take action against those who broke state law."
"I can confirm that we have an investigation, that we've assigned folks to it, and that we're on it," Sara Marie Kinney, spokeswoman for Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson, said Thursday.
A woman who answered the phone Thursday at Dr. Karpen's Houston clinic said, "We have no comment at this time."
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the timing of the video was intended to take advantage of the Gosnell trial and "demonize" abortion providers.
Dr. Karpen was already investigated by the Texas Medical Board, and they "came up with nothing," Ms. Busby said. Also, Houston doctors refer patients to him, especially for fetal anomaly cases, "so he's not an outlier like Kermit Gosnell was," she said. "So my impression is that this is not a Gosnell situation. I think this is just an attack on late-term abortion providers."
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican and an obstetrician, has joined Republican colleagues on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in asking all state health departments to report on their abortion laws and enforcement statistics.
The Gosnell grand jury report showed "an established pattern of practice" that violated Pennsylvania state law, such as falsifying data about fetal age before an abortion.
"I don't think anyone could read [the report] and not be perplexed as to how this could go on for so long," said Mr. Burgess. These infants "were clearly viable, clearly born alive, and actions were taken to make sure that they didn't survive. That's just wrong."
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