Legislation requiring accreditation for facilities where invasive medical procedures are performed passed the Senate today and will be sent to Gov. Jack Markell for his signature.
House Bill 144 directs the state Department of Health and Social Services to promulgate regulations to accredit such medical facilities, which include abortion clinics, and gives the department the power to shut down facilities that fail to maintain accreditation.
The bill is the second piece of legislation introduced in the wake of shocking allegations surrounding former Delaware and Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of murdering infants born alive in a filthy Philadelphia clinic.
A bill passed and signed into law earlier this year allows DHSS and the Division of Professional Regulation to inspect invasive surgery facilities in light of public complaints. Last week, DHSS exercised that new authority and shut down a Dover dermatological clinic.
Before the Senate passed HB 144, it voted down an amendment presented by Sen. Michael Katz (D-Centerville), which would have allowed a facility to remain open even if it lost accreditation, so long as the invasive surgery component of its operations ceased.
Katz, an anesthesiologist, said his amendment promotes access to medical services in places like primary care offices, where many doctors practice non-invasive medicine alongside colleagues performing invasive procedures.
However, the majority of the Senate agreed with DHSS officials, who testified that Katz’s amendment would weaken their power to shut down facilities that lose accreditation.
Before the final vote on the bill, Katz said he would support it even without his amendment, but not before reviving a small controversy about who really came up with the legislation.
When the bill came to the House, Katz accused prime sponsor Rep. Bryon Short (D-Highland Woods) of plagiarizing language that he wrote in conjunction with the Medical Society of Delaware, which represents the state’s doctors.
Short and the House leadership said Katz’s accusations were nonsense and the bill’s language was part of an ongoing collaboration with the Medical Society and DHSS.
But, on the Senate floor Katz expressed “significant disappointment in the ethics of our general assembly.”
“Ethics violations should not be taken lightly or ignored because that’s the way we do things in Dover,” Katz said.
Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) asked Katz, “Who cares?”
“I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw we had this inter-house bickering over who got to put their name on the top of a piece of legislation,” Bonini added.