Allyson Schwartz, the Democratic suburban Philadelphia congresswoman running for governor, was the director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, from 1975 to 1988. Her time there coincided with the formative years of abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s infamous career.
Located in downtown Philadelphia, the Blackwell Center is on Chestnut Street, a stone’s throw away from Reading Terminal Market and Philly’s iconic city hall. It’s also less than three miles over the Schuylkill River from what was once the Women’s Medical Society, the “house of horrors” clinic in West Philadelphia run by Gosnell.
Gosnell, of course, is currently on trial in federal court on five counts of murder—one mother and four born-alive infants whom he allegedly killed outside the womb. Investigators believe Gosnell and his staff killed many more infants who were born alive. (Prosecution recently dropped charges against him for the murder of three more infants.) In January 2011, he was arrested following a federal raid on his clinic in February 2010. The investigation into Gosnell’s clinic has revealed the gruesome conditions under which he and his staff worked.
With the case getting national attention, and with the congresswoman’s political profile rapidly rising, some in Philadelphia’s pro-life community have begun to wonder about Schwartz’s own relationship with Gosnell’s longtime Philly practice. Did the Blackwell Center refer late-term patients to Gosnell while Schwartz was its director? Both Schwartz’s congressional office and her gubernatorial campaign have so far failed to answer requests for on-the-record answers to these questions.
At Blackwell, the answers aren't clear, either. The doctors there don’t perform abortions on site, but they do refer patients to abortion clinics in the area. These days, Blackwell’s policy is to provide no referrals for any patient seeking an abortion past 21 weeks of gestation. The law in Pennsylvania allows for abortions up until 24 weeks, but a Blackwell employee who answered the phone says a woman after 21 weeks would have to travel to New Jersey or Delaware to get an abortion that late. Why?
“No clinics in Pennsylvania will take patients past 21 weeks,” the employee confirmed.
Not anymore, but there was a time when at least one clinic in the Philadelphia area was performing late-term abortions on women who were past 21 weeks of gestation: Gosnell’s. Late-term abortions were his specialty, particularly for poor minority women. If a woman at 23 weeks came to Blackwell looking for an abortion, where would Blackwell refer her to if not Gosnell’s clinic?
A Planned Parenthood official denies that Blackwell ever referred mothers seeking abortions to take the 10-minute drive across town to Gosnell’s clinic, though she did not explain how she knew this.
“We have never referred to Gosnell,” said the official in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Could she confirm that going all the way back to 1972, the year Gosnell first opened his clinic? The official did not immediately respond.