What went on in the Pennsylvania abortion clinic authorities called a “house of horrors” raises critical questions that can’t go by as news cycles change.

As the grand jury report asks, how could this have gone on for so long? What regulations are there to prevent this kind of horror? And who’s minding the regulations’ compliance?

When they finally resumed routine inspections of abortion clinics last year after more than 15 years, Pennsylvania health regulators ordered 14 of the state’s 22 freestanding clinics to remedy problems, a review of records shows.

But none of the conditions found remotely approached the filthy and illegal operations described at the now-shuttered Philadelphia women’s clinic presided over by a doctor who faces eight counts of murder related to his work there.

The grand jury that investigated Dr. Kermit Gosnell, his wife and eight other clinic workers had scathing criticism last week for Pennsylvania’s state health and medical regulators for allowing the conditions at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society to exist unchecked for years.

The most common deficiencies found by Health Department inspectors at the other abortion clinics, according to records obtained by The Associated Press, were failures to properly report medical conditions that qualify as “serious events” and not keeping resuscitation equipment readily available. Also cited were failures to test or record urine protein and blood sugar levels, and issues related to checking on patients after surgery, in the recovery room.

Prosecutors blamed “a complete regulatory collapse” for allowing Gosnell’s routine late-term abortions for poor women, mostly minorities.

How could that happen? How many more clinics are out there defying regulations with unchecked disregard?

How can abortion clinics escape laws that apply to other medical clinics? Probably with the ease with which they skirt other laws protecting the health and safety and well-being of human beings. By making false claims and getting authorities to believe them.

Look at Colleen Carroll Campbell’s opening paragraph alone. Then follow the ‘logic’ she eviscerates.

Everywhere you looked, there were dead bodies: in the refrigerator and freezer, milk jugs, orange-juice cartons, shoeboxes and cat-food bins.

Not to worry, though. The bodies and body parts — including the jars of tiny feet that Philadelphia abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell kept around for “research” — were not those of real, rights-bearing human persons. They were the corpses of unborn or, in some cases, prematurely newborn infants targeted for abortion. They were mere fetal matter, objects of that much-revered constitutional right to privacy that seven U.S. Supreme Court justices discovered in an emanation of a penumbra 38 years ago this month.

Which leads to the question many of us are asking, when protection of a vulnerable human being, or denial of both, depends on a matter of inches and minutes. What does the law mean?

Once you admit that an unwanted human being barely outside the birth canal is a rights-bearing baby, it’s tough to argue that one inside the birth canal is disposable fetal material. Similarly, the distinction between the 24-week-old fetuses Gosnell aborted legally and the 25-week-old fetuses he aborted illegally makes little sense, given that infants born younger than 24 weeks sometimes survive…

Abortion law has been stretched to include infanticide, and the industry thrives on this confusion.

Gosnell himself seemed perplexed about the outrage surrounding abortions he was once hailed as a hero for performing, back when they were thought to be legal.

“Is it possible you could explain the seven counts?” he asked at his arraignment. “I understand the one count because of the patient who died but not the others.”

One could ask abortion-rights defenders like Obama the same question: Could you please explain why some abortions are an outrage and others merely a choice? And could you explain exactly how — in a nation that has allowed clinics like Gosnell’s to operate with impunity and an estimated 50 million children to be aborted since 1973 — Roe has made abortion “safe, legal and rare”?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas

<strong>Sheila Liaugminas</strong> is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....