Inspection Uncovers Numerous Safety Violations at Harrisburg Abortion Center

HillcrestBy Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director

In the shadow of the state Capitol, a Harrisburg abortion center which has operated for decades has accumulated a myriad of health and safety violations.

The revelations can be found in an inspection report for the “Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center” posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website here.

The number and breadth of violations are truly alarming. No full-time person was in charge of operating the facility. No registered nurse was on duty to assist patients before and after at least 55 abortions had been performed. The facility failed to document the name and dosage of anesthesia used on a number of patients.

In addition, Hillcrest failed to secure drug samples—a dangerous situation. A February tour of the facility revealed a number of outdated medication and supplies.
The procedure room had swabs for sexually transmitted diseases that had expired 13 years before. Inspectors found needles and syringes in paper wrapping that had deteriorated and were yellow with age.

Investigators also determined that Hillcrest violated the state Child Protective Services law.  That law requires that employees who have “significant likelihood of regular contact with children in the form of care, guidance, supervision or training” must obtain three background checks: one from the Pennsylvania State Police, one from the Department of Human Services, and one from the FBI.

Inspectors reviewed medical records, personnel files, and conducted staff interviews. They found that, even though Hillcrest saw patients under the age of 18, “background checks were not completed for employees.”

The egregious safety violations at Hillcrest show the importance of Pennsylvania’s abortion center regulation law, which ensures regular inspections of abortion facilities. Pennsylvania simply cannot depend on abortion facilities to police themselves.



Remembering Vulnerable Mothers This Mother’s Day Weekend

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director


     I stopped in my local grocery store and found a vibrantly colorful display of balloons, roses, and carnations, signaling the start of this weekend’s Mother’s Day celebrations.

Some of us who are mothers will celebrate with bouquets and brunches, cookouts and candy. Hugs and kisses from the children who delivered motherhood to us will remind us of the tremendous gift we have received in birthing and nurturing our offspring.

But, perhaps before the festivities are in full bloom, could you take a moment with me to pray for those pregnant mothers who, on the eve of Mother’s Day weekend, have entered abortion centers?

Pray that they may have a change of mind and choose life, and that they will have all the support that they and their children need, both now and in the future.

National Siblings Day


Today is National Sibling Day, which got me thinking about my two great brothers and an amazing sister, but it also made me think of my older brother Johnathon who was not fully formed at birth and didn’t survive.  I wonder how life would’ve been different for me if he was healthy, and I had an older brother on this earth instead of looking down on me from Heaven.

I also can’t help but think of other people’s siblings—those lost to abortion since 1973, or worse yet, those never conceived because of the number of couples who end their relationship after an abortion.   These missing siblings are not even included in the 59 million babies killed by abortion…their numbers will never be known.

So on this day, I would encourage you to think of the siblings lost to abortion, and those never conceived since Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided.  Consider what you can do to make sure no more siblings are lost.  And celebrate all those siblings who have been spared since 1973 because their mother’s chose life!

Celebrate ALL Life


An interesting phenomenon is occurring on Facebook right now which celebrates life.  My timeline is full of live Facebook videos of April the giraffe, the mother giraffe at Animal Adventure Park in New York, who is expected to give birth any time now.  As we slowly ease into Spring, I imagine there will be many more opportunities to celebrate the birth of new animal life.  Unfortunately, while we do so, precious, pre-born babies are being torn apart, limb by limb, in a horrific, barbaric process known as dismemberment abortion.  This would not be tolerated if it were being done to animals, and yet it is legal to kill pre-born human babies this way.

Thankfully, in Pennsylvania we have an opportunity to treat human babies with the same respect we treat animals.  Senate Bill 3 passed by a bipartisan majority in the State Senate earlier this year. It would end horrific dismemberment abortions.  Senate Bill 3 is awaiting action in the State House of Representatives. We need YOUR help to make this bill law.  Specifically, there are two things you can do to ensure this common-sense legislation is enacted to save babies from a horrific death.

First, please consider taking a few minutes to call your state Representative and let him or her know you want a vote to end dismemberment abortions in Pennsylvania. If you don’t know who your State Representative is, you can find out at

Second, you can sign our petition at to let Governor Wolf know you want him to protect his pre-born constituents from being torn apart limb-by-limb.  Please take a minute to sign the petition online, and then share it on your social media.  You can also get a paper version of the petition to circulate among friends and family, or at any upcoming events.  To obtain the paper version, simply email your request to or call 717-541-0034.

Thank you for helping to spare babies and their mothers from the grave harm of dismemberment abortions.

Gary Cangemi Died Saturday in Scranton: Cartoonist Created Congenial Umbert the Unborn

By Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director

Gary-Cangemi-Portrait-WEBThe pro-life movement in Pennsylvania and the nation suffered a great loss on Saturday, March 18, 2017 when Gary L. Cangemi died at the age of 62 in Scranton.

 Early in my tenure in 2002 as executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, the Pennsylvania affiliate of National Right to Life, I met Gary and we were immediately drawn to each other by our passion to end the killing of innocent babies in their mother’s wombs, and by our mutual Italian heritage!

Gary introduced me to the character he created in 2001, Umbert the Unborn. Umbert developed into a nationally syndicated comic strip, a parade float for our chapter in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvanians for Human Life Scranton Chapter, an annual workshop at the National Right to Life Convention, comic books and trading cards to name a few.

The first time I attended one of Gary’s workshops, I was struck by how he could use little Umbert and his preborn pals to both entertain the audience and to make them think about the reality of all preborn babies growing and developing as they awaited their transition to the world outside comfy womb life.  During his workshops, Gary would start with a blank sheet of paper.  Then he would elicit ideas from the audience until he developed a brand new four panel comic strip featuring Umbert that always made everyone laugh and think at the same time.

Gary was a determined activist for the pro-life movement and an important member of the Scranton Chapter.  He was a talented artist and writer who was generous to the Chapter in helping educate pro-lifers and the general public about working toward the day when abortion will be unthinkable in our state and the nation.

The board of directors, members, staff and volunteers of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation are deeply grateful for the life of Gary Cangemi and extend our most sincere sympathies to his loving wife, children, sisters and brothers.  He is deeply missed!

Those who wish to post a message on Gary’s Guest Book may do so until April 19, 2017.

To send a message of condolence to the Pennsylvanians for Human Life, Scranton Chapter, email them at

“Life” is Getting a Second Chance in Easton PA

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director


Another abortion center is shutting its doors in Pennsylvania, as abortion giant Planned Parenthood has announced plans to close down its Easton, Pennsylvania facility at the end of March.

The center performed chemical abortions, which now account for more than a third of all abortions in Pennsylvania. According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, non-surgical, also known as “medical” abortions, totaled 11,314 in PA in 2015, the latest year for which statistics are available. The total number of abortions that year was 31,818.

The facility’s closure is welcome news to a number of area residents, who believed the center was targeting teenagers because of its proximity to nearby schools.

Still, Planned Parenthood continues to operate a number of abortion centers in Pennsylvania.

A report in The Morning Call newspaper indicated Planned Parenthood Keystone, which has been running the Easton center, will be referring women to its Allentown abortion center, which also performs surgical abortions.

Interestingly enough, Planned Parenthood has also been closing facilities in Pennsylvania that do not perform abortions. Three Planned Parenthood centers in the state shut down in December alone, and another in southeastern Pennsylvania (Bristol) will reportedly cease operations at the end of March.

Planned Parenthood Keystone CEO Melissa Reed told The Morning Call the closings stemmed from a “market analysis” in August. “If we had health centers that are really close together and competing in the same market, it doesn’t make sense to have two buildings to support.” Reed said.

Fortunately, mirroring national trends, abortions have been on a downward trend in Pennsylvania. The total of 31,818 abortions in 2015 represented the fewest on record!

The miracle of ultrasound technology—which can show babies smiling, crying, even giving a “thumbs up” in the womb—have helped to humanize the unborn child and strengthened the mother-child bond. Pregnancy resource centers—which provide everything from diapers to day care referrals—have also provided the compassionate support which empowers mothers to reject abortion.

The tens of thousands of abortions which continue to occur in Pennsylvania are an epic tragedy. But the closure of one more abortion center offers renewed hope that the lives of more precious babies will be saved—and more women will escape the devastating grief caused by the loss of a child to abortion.

“Life” is getting a second chance in Easton, Pennsylvania—and that gives us all reason to rejoice!

Celebrate Children with Down Syndrome

11230648_972102809477119_3036264109565115899_nMarch 20th is World Down Syndrome day.  It is an opportunity to celebrate children with Down Syndrome and recognize that it is not a disease or a disability, just a difference that should be respected.

I remember my experience with Down Syndrome.  My wife was pregnant with our first child, and we couldn’t be more excited.  We were already planning a Pittsburgh Steelers themed nursery and could not wait.  We had just found out we were having a boy, and had a follow-up with the doctor.


The doctor gravely informed us that our child had a club foot, and that could be a sign of him having Down Syndrome.  He was recommending we go for additional tests so we could decide what we wanted to do.  Talk about a shocker…we weren’t sure what to do.  After a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of the additional testing, I looked at my wife and told her if she wanted to have the test, we would, but that I wasn’t sure what the point was…whether our child had Down Syndrome or not, he was going to be loved and cherished.  Ultimately we decided not to have the test, and a few months later we were blessed with a healthy baby boy who happened to have club foot.  That baby boy will turn 11 four days after World Down Syndrome Day, and you wouldn’t know he had club foot by looking at him (see above for his 2015 soccer picture).

Now, I do not have any issue with parents who decide to get additional testing.  I can understand the impulse to know as much as possible about the new life you are beginning.  What is concerning is the number of people who determine their child may have Down Syndrome, or any of the other “abnormalities” the testing finds and decide to have an abortion which will kill their baby.  In fact, 93% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are killed before they even have a chance at life (despite a 2.5% margin of error in the testing).

As we approach World Down Syndrome day, I encourage you to take a minute and get to know a child with Down Syndrome.  Consider that he or she is one of the 7% whose parents decided they were going to love their child no matter what, and they were going to give him or her an opportunity to live life to its fullest.

“Roe” Wanted Roe v. Wade Reversed. THAT is Her Legacy.

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director


     You can hear a smile in a voice.

It is one of those interesting facts of communication that I learned in a radio journalism class which proved to be helpful far beyond the confines of the classroom.

As a reporter, I heard a range of emotions in the interviews that would be recorded for broadcast–sadness, anger, pride.

Over the past few days, I have been reminded of a voice that answered the phone when I was working on a story about abortion.

The voice belonged to the “Roe” of the tragic U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which brought about the legalization of abortion nationwide in 1973. Her real name was Norma McCorvey, and by that time, she had renounced the court decision that bore her pseudonym. She was striving to right a horrible wrong, to save the lives of preborn children, and to spare their mothers unspeakable pain and heartache.

Ironically, she was not the person I was calling to interview, so our conversation was quite brief.

But I heard much in her voice: Kindness. Compassion. Caring.

Norma McCorvey was once part of the abortion industry. But she died a pro-life champion.

It is common for those involved in court cases to wish the court had ruled differently. It is incredible for a winner of a case to wish she had lost.

“Roe” wanted Roe v. Wade to be overturned. This would be like saying the winning team of the last Super Bowl wished the second half never would have happened and that they had lost the biggest football game of the year.

But it was true. I could not only hear it in her voice–it was also apparent in the actions that she took to try to reverse a Supreme Court ruling that has led to the deaths of more than 59 million preborn children and the haunting grief of millions of mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings.

Some Millennials may not know that the woman behind Roe, Norma McCorvey, reversed course and adopted a pro-life point of view. They may be stunned to learn that the woman who was the subject of the nation’s best-known abortion case never had an abortion herself–that the pregnancy that led to her being the subject of a court case ended in birth and subsequent adoption.

But as spectacular as Norma’s story may be, in a sense, it is not entirely unique.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the founder of the pro-abortion lobbying group known as NARAL, left the abortion industry behind and became an ardent supporter of the right to life. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood center director, left the business as well and now assists those who want to make a similar, life-affirming exit. Carol Everett, a former abortion center owner, became a passionate defender of life.

Add to that all those women who are a part of the Silent No More Awareness campaign–women who had abortions, but who now regret them. They are breaking the code of silence surrounding abortion so that other women can avoid such horrific tragedy.

These women cannot be silenced. And neither can Norma. Her voice lives on in video and in the minds of those touched by her call for the nation to embrace mothers and their children–and to abandon Roe v. Wade.

For if Roe no longer believed in Roe v. Wade, why should the Supreme Court? If the Court cannot hear the silent cry of the preborn child, perhaps quite soon it will listen to the words of women such as Norma. They are women who were once deceived by the lies of the abortion industry, but who found their voice when they rediscovered the hope that lies in fighting for life.

The nation owes it to Norma, and to all those other women, to end the epic human catastrophe caused by Roe v. Wade and to discard the unjust court decision once and for all.

The “Dred Scott argument” for Abortion

mother_and_child     Anyone who has been part of the pro-life movement for any length of time knows that there are certain arguments that the abortion industry and its allies make reflexively.  Perhaps they believe that if they continue repeating these poor arguments, their case will magically improve.

One such argument is the idea that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and pesky pro-lifers should stop trying to rehash an issue that the Supreme Court has already ruled on.  I like to call this the “Dred Scott argument”, which is why I thought it would be an interesting one to explore during Black history month.

In Dred Scott v. Sanford, Scott was an enslaved Black man who sued for his freedom.  Sadly, in what many constitutional scholars now consider one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever, the Justices ruled that neither Scott, nor anyone else of African heritage, could claim US citizenship, thus allowing the tragic practice of slavery to continue.

What does this have to do with Roe v. Wade and abortion in America?  As in the Dred Scott case, a terrible mistake was made in the Roe v. Wade decision.  In Dred Scott, the Justices determined one person was not as important as others simply because of his race…in Roe v. Wade, five Supreme Court Justices found a “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution that had never been there before, and used that newfound “right” to justify the killing of almost 60 million people and counting.

Many people did not agree with the Dred Scott decision. Should they have all just given up and gone home to allow the injustice of slavery to continue?  Of course not.  They doubled down on their efforts to have everyone, no matter what race or ethnicity, recognized as equal…and eventually succeeded in getting the 13th amendment passed and slavery abolished.  The same principle applies to pro-life advocates.  Just because the Constitution was misinterpreted doesn’t mean we pack our bags and go home…it means we continue to fight to end the injustice of abortion so that one day Roe v. Wade will fall into the ash heaps of history—where it truly belongs.

Pennsylvania Senate Votes to Ban Brutal Dismemberment Abortions

Diagram of a dismemberment abortion

HARRISBURG, Pa. –A ban on the brutal practice of dismemberment abortions has been approved by the Pennsylvania Senate.

The measure, Senate Bill 3, will make it illegal to cause “the death of an unborn child by means of dismembering the unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments.”

Under the measure, the legal limit for abortions in Pennsylvania would also change from six months’ to five months’ gestation, reflecting the fact that modern technology has been able to save babies at ever-earlier stages of development.

“Taking the life of an unborn child by tearing the baby limb by limb from a mother’s womb is cruel and unconscionable. It is a gruesome practice which most Pennsylvanians want to see banned, according to a statewide poll of Commonwealth residents.  Not one Pennsylvania child should be subjected to this form of brutality—and not one mother should have to grieve a child killed in such a barbaric way,” said Maria Gallagher, legislative director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life.

Senate Bill 3, which is sponsored by state Senator Michele Brooks (Crawford, Erie, Mercer, and Warren Counties), provides exceptions for the mother’s life or for the “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

“Poll results show that support for a dismemberment abortion ban in Pennsylvania is actually higher among women than men,” Gallagher added. “Sixty-four percent of PA women want to see this heinous practice banned once and for all.  And they applaud those women lawmakers who are leading the fight to end this ultimate form of child abuse.”

 The bill now moves to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for consideration. A similar bill overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives last legislative session.