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A district judge recently dismissed a case against the City of Philadelphia resulting from the Kermit Gosnell “House of Horrors” abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.

Judge Nitza A. Quinones Alejandro ruled earlier this month to dismiss civil rights claims made against the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health and former Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Donald F. Schwarz, regarding the death of Karna Maya Mongar in 2009, citing Constitutional amendment issues.

In Nov. 2009, Mongar went to the clinic for a dilation and evacuation procedure and was administered medication by Lynda Gayle Williams, who worked under Gosnell, but was unlicensed, according to court documents. Gosnell was not present.

At 6pm, Mongar experienced cramping, so Williams called Gosnell, who instructed her to administer two medications. An hour later, she felt cramps again, Gosnell was again called, and Williams twice administered a local anesthetic. Soon after, Gosnell arrived.

“The medical records reveal that Mongar’s pulse, respirations, blood pressure, cardiac rhythm, oxygen pulse and anesthesia level were not monitored during the procedure,” according to documents.

Then, at 11:10pm, according to the clinic’s records, Mongar’s condition was listed as “good.” However, this is not what the Philadelphia EMS on the scene reported. Those records say Mongar was found at 11:13 in an examination room with no pulse. She was pronounced dead at the University of Pennsylvania hospital. The cause, according to the Grand Jury report: A drug overdose.

Gosnell was, of course, later arrested and then convicted of murdering three infants who were born alive during procedures, 21 felony counts of late-term abortions, 211 counts of violating the 24-hour consent law, and the death of Mongar.

Mongar’s daughter, Yashoda Devi Gurung sued the city government over inaction which, it was alleged, led to Mongar’s death. Among them: Philadelphia Department of Public Health visiting and observing inappropriate vaccine administration and record-keeping; an anonymous complaint of aborted fetuses stored in paper bags in an employee refrigerator; letters from the Environmental Engineering Division of the Department of Public Health to Gosnell, regarding incomplete waste plans; inspections of the clinic showing unsanitary conditions; and false claims of a medical license amongst Gosnell’s employees.

Amongst the reasons the judge dismissed the case: A legal interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which claims the state shall not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The plaintiff alleged this was violated as the government “implicitly or explicitly adopt[ed] and implement[ed] careless and reckless policies, customs, or practices, that included, among other things, failing to enforce the regulations designed to protect the public health, which affirmatively permitted the health and safety of Gosnell’s patients,” including Mongar, “to be placed at serious risk.”

The legal interpretation which allowed this case to be dismissed: “While courts recognize that the Due Process Clause protects an individual’s interest in his or her bodily integrity, the Constitution, however, imposes no affirmative duty on municipalities to protect citizens from the acts of private individuals,” according to documents.

The judge also found there could be no exception made for a legal “special relationship” between the city and clinic, nor the state-created danger exemption, which provides a state “may be held liable where it ‘acts to create or enhance a danger that deprives the plaintiff of his or her Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process.’”

About The Author

Staff writer

Randy LoBasso is the winner of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's 2014 Distinguished Writing Award for his news and politics coverage at Philadelphia Weekly. He has also contributed to Alt Ledes, Salon, The Guardian and PennLive.

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