Blumenthal Delivers Floor Speech Objecting To Senator Lee’s Abortion Resolution, Introduces Broader Resolution Condemning Criminal Acts And Malpractice In All Health Care Settings

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor objecting to Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) abortion resolution. Lee’s resolution – introduced in response to the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell – states that “Congress and States should gather information about and correct abusive, unsanitary, and illegal abortion practices and the interstate referral of women and girls to facilities engaged in dangerous or illegal second- and third-trimester procedures.” 

During the floor speech, Blumenthal objected to Lee’s resolution and introduced his own resolution, which states that all “incidents of abusive, unsanitary, or illegal health care practices should be condemned and prevented and the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”    

“I believe this problem is broader than the issue cited in Senator Lee’s resolution. I believe the misconduct alleged in the Gosnell case was abhorrent, but I’m also concerned about patient safety in all instances,” Blumenthal said. “Any time patient safety is threatened because of criminal behavior or malpractice whether in clinics, hospitals, or dental offices, the perpetrator should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My resolution calls upon my colleagues to condemn all such actions. We ought to talk about the dentist in Oklahoma who exposed as many as 7,000 patients to H.I.V. and Hepatitis B and C with the same outrage as we talk about the abortion doctor in Pennsylvania who is accused of several heinous crimes.”   

A video of his remarks can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qqhnxRewHo. Text of a portion of his remarks is below:

Again, I accept and sympathize with the goals of the resolution offered by my friend from Utah, and what I'm suggesting is a resolution that includes those criminals who may be posing as health care practitioners in one field of practice but extends the condemnation to all areas of practice, and I hope that Senator Lee, my friend from Utah, will share my outrage at reprehensible and illegal actions that occur, unfortunately, and tragically in other areas of practice. And let me just mention a few. 

We ought to speak about the tragedy at the Pennsylvania Clinic where these incidents occurred, but we also should talk about the Oklahoma dentist who exposed as many as 7,000 patients to H.I.V. and Hepatitis B and C through unsanitary practices. Thousands of his patients are being tested to see if they have been infected and so far 60 of his patients have tested positive for these viruses. That is 60 people who trusted their dentist – a health care provider in a position of trust and responsibility – relying on him to respect and care for them safely and responsibly. And instead they are now facing potentially life-threatening diseases that are as abhorrent and despicable in the lack of responsibility and care as what happened in Pennsylvania. And we ought to talk about that incident with the same outrage that we talk about what happened allegedly in Pennsylvania. 

We ought to speak about the health care practitioners at the endoscopy center in Nevada that exposed 40,000 patients to H.I.V. through unsanitary practices. These unsanitary practices may have gone on for years – 40,000 people exposed to unnecessary danger because of the lack of trust and responsibility on the part of their health care provider. 

We ought to talk about the nursing home in California who inappropriately medicated patients using antipsychotic drugs for her own convenience resulting in the death of one patient. We should be talking about compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts and elsewhere in this country who provided products that killed and harmed thousands of people. These incidents as alleged are willful violations of law, violations of human dignity and decency that ought to shock the conscience of the nation every bit to its core as much as the alleged misconduct and potential criminal activity in Pennsylvania. 

These standards of care, or more appropriately and correctly, the violation of them are simply unacceptable and intolerable, which is why my resolution would take as common ground the alleged Pennsylvania misconduct and include many other instances where standards of care, basic standards of decency and trust are violated. And I ask my friend from Utah to join me in espousing a resolution that establishes this kind of common ground.