Gosnell-Inspired Bill Targets Infanticide, Illegal Abortions

The statute of limitations on Gosnell-type crimes would be extended to give prosecutors a better chance.

State capitol | Shutterstock.com

State capitol | Shutterstock.com

A bill that would lengthen the statute of limitations for crimes of the sort committed by “House of Horrors” abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House.

The bill, introduced Tuesday, would entirely set aside the statute of limitations for infanticide, the killing of a baby born alive during the course of an abortion or pregnancy termination. Furthermore, the statute of limitations for illegal abortions performed after the 24th week of gestation would likewise be increased to five years. Currently, prosecutors cannot bring charges in either case if more than two years has elapsed.

“Infanticide is homicide and should be treated as such,” Rep. Matthew Baker, a Republican, wrote in a memorandum explaining the bill.

Anti-abortion groups have been seeking a change in the law ever since the allegations were first announced against Gosnell, who was then convicted in 2013 of multiple charges related to the killing of live-born babies, third-trimester abortions, and the death of an adult female patient. The grand jury that recommended charges against Gosnell in 2011 explicitly asked that the statute of limitations laws relating to his crimes be changed.

“It is important to extend the statute of limitations not only because of the seriousness of the offense, but also because the crime is hard to discover,” the grand jury said in its report. “Gosnell, we are convinced, committed hundreds of acts of infanticide. He got away with them for decades because they all took place inside his clinic. We are disappointed that we can charge him for only the babies he let die in the past two years.”

The Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania did not immediately offer comment on Baker’s bill.

A similar bill was introduced during the 2013-14 session of the Pennsylvania Legislature, but got stuck at the committee level. Baker’s new bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee; Chairman Ron Marsico today said he would try to advance the bill to the full House.

“I support the bill and intend on moving it,” Marsico said. “We’ll be calling it up at some point.”

A hearing on the bill, however, has not yet been scheduled.

Philly Mag writer Steve Volk profiled Gosnell in fall 2013 in a magazine story called “Kermit Gosnell’s Babies” that was also published as an ebook