The Medical Board of California has asked the state attorney general’s office for an opinion as to whether Planned Parenthood-sponsored abortion clinics have a duty to report child abuse to authorities.
Officials with the United States Justice Foundation say the board is seeking clarification of reporting rules it says may be a conflict of interest between the right to privacy for teen-age girls and women receiving abortions and the clinics’ duty as a medical provider to report cases of child sexual abuse.
The board’s request comes on the heels of a report published by a pro-life organization, Texas-based Life Dynamics Inc., charging that organizations like Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation “knowingly conceal” the crimes of sexual abuse of minors “while aiding and abetting the sexual predators who commit them.”
In May, the group published an exhaustive study in which one researcher portrayed a 13-year-old girl made pregnant by a 22-year-old boyfriend.
As part of the study, the teen-girl imposter telephoned over 800 Planned Parenthood and NAF facilities across the country. “Her story was that she wanted an abortion because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship,” a summary of the group’s initial report stated.
In every instance, the group said, the ages of the girl and her boyfriend “were made perfectly clear” to clinic workers. “It was also made clear,” said the summary, “that the motivation for the abortion was to conceal this illicit sexual activity from the girl’s parents and the authorities.”
Despite that, however, clinic workers routinely disregarded their reporting requirement, the group said, and in many cases offered to help conceal the fact that the act itself was a crime while offering to provide abortion services.
Some clinics allegedly offered advice on how to avoid parental reporting statutes, while others said they would provide birth control pills and other contraceptives so the abuse could continue.
The request for clarification also follows a lawsuit filed by the United States Justice Foundation against Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles and San Diego on behalf of a California woman who alleges that as an employee of the organization she was required to offer medical services – including assisting physicians with abortions – that she was not licensed to perform.
“The Medical Board has characterized this as a situation where there is supposedly a conflict of laws between the ‘right of privacy’ and the duty to report the abuse of minors,” said a statement issued by USJF. “Under this analysis, a pediatrician could still be a reporting agency for purposes of the law, but Planned Parenthood would not be.”
The legal group says such a delineation of reporting duties would endanger teen-age girls who, despite their consent, are being sexually abused by adult men, which is unquestionably against the law.
“The attorney general needs to do the right thing and not protect child abusers, molesters and rapists,” Richard Ackerman, a USJF attorney, told WorldNetDaily.
He described news of the medical board’s request as “urgent” because, he said, in California, the opinions of the state’s attorney general carry much weight in court.
“[His opinions are] considered to be legal, persuasive authority,” Ackerman said.
In a Sept. 5 letter to Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles County’s fifth district supervisor who brought the issue of physicians at abortion clinics allegedly failing to report suspected sexual abuse of minors, David T. Thorton, the medical board’s chief of enforcement, said the panel faced an “interesting legal question: A physician’s failure to make a report pursuant to [state law] versus their responsibility to honor the patient’s right to confidentiality.”
Before making its decision, Thorton wrote, the board wanted to be “certain there are no conflicts in the law that create a legal minefield as it relates to physician reporting responsibilities in these instances.”
“Therefore,” Thorton continued, “I will forward this issue to the Office of Attorney General, Health Quality Enforcement Section, for their review and opinion.”
The issue seems moot to some legal scholars. California penal codes describe unlawful sexual intercourse as “an act … accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator” who is also a “minor.” The code goes on to describe a “minor” as “a person under the age of 18 years. …”
The code describes as either a misdemeanor or felony illegal sexual intercourse with a minor “who is not more than three years older or three years younger than the perpetrator. …” Less than three years means a misdemeanor; over three means a felony, according to physicians. State statutes say convictions could result in jail terms up to four years and fines up to $25,000.
The California attorney general’s office did not return calls for comment. But according to state statutes, California law states, “The pregnancy of a minor does not, in and of itself, constitute a reasonable suspicion of child abuse.”
In its May report, Life Dynamics said, “Among girls 15 and younger who become pregnant, between 60 percent and 80 percent of them are impregnated by adult men.” Some girls are even as young as 10 years old, said the pro-life research firm.
“In America today, we have reached the point where a junior high-school girl is more likely to become pregnant by an adult than by someone close to her own age,” said the report. “One study concluded that the average age of men who father children with girls under 14 is now higher than the average age of men who father children with 18-year-olds.”
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