Corbett has ordered secretaries of the Departments of Health and State to review the 260-page report that charged a doctor with eight counts of murder. The governor directed both cabinet members to send him recommendations about how to improve agency oversight of health facilities.
"He thought what happened was horrific," said Corbett spokeswoman Janet Kelly. "He has asked them to look at the situation and get back to him with recommendations on how to change the system."
As a result of the grand jury's work, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran the Women's Medical Society in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia, was charged in the deaths of seven babies - allegedly killed when their spinal cords were severed with scissors - and one woman, who allegedly received a lethal dose of painkillers and sedatives during a medical procedure. Nine former Gosnell employees also were charged, four with murder.
The clinic operated for three decades with little oversight from regulators, receiving only three state inspections since 1979 and none since 1993, the grand jury found. The clinic was shuttered nearly a year ago after state and federal agents - raiding it as part of a prescription-drug investigation - found fetuses stored in milk jugs, orange-juice cartons, and cat-food containers.
Corbett has directed his appointees at two agencies that oversee medical facilities - acting Secretary of State Carol Aichele, and acting Health Secretary Eli Avila - to review the grand jury's findings and report back to him. Kelly said their responses were expected this week.
Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), in whose district the clinic was located, held up a copy of the grand jury report on the Senate floor Monday and called for action.
"We have to fix the holes in the system to make sure this is not happening elsewhere in the commonwealth," said Hughes, calling the findings "unfathomable."
Hughes, on the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, said the panel would hold hearings on the matter as early as next month.
Several lawmakers are preparing bills in response to the grand jury report. Sen. Patricia Vance (R., Dauphin), who chairs the Public Health and Welfare Committee, is drafting a measure requiring the state Health Department to swiftly respond to any complaints and to conduct more timely inspections of health clinics.
Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre) vowed to introduce a bill as early as this week to require annual state inspections of abortion clinics. "The most disturbing question which must be answered is, 'How was this allowed to go on for so long?' " he said.
Corman said his proposal would also mandate minimum health and safety standards "for all abortion clinics - the same safety standards which other health care facilities must meet in the state."
Corman said state law requires other health facilities, such as hospitals, birthing clinics, and nursing facilities, to be certified, licensed, and inspected periodically.
"At minimum, we want to bring [abortion clinics] in line with other health-care facilities so that people seeking these services get the assurance of quality care," he said.
Hughes cautioned that abortion clinics should not be singled out for increased regulation and that legislation should require more routine inspection of all types of health clinics.
Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.