The California attorney general’s office has released an interpretation of the state’s child-abuse reporting requirements, asserting that, despite privacy concerns, physicians are required to make a report to authorities if an underage female patient is suspected of being impregnated by an adult male.
“There is a reporting requirement when the female minor is under 16 years of age and the man impregnating her is 21 years of age or older; the female minor is under the age of 14 years; or when the female minor is 14 or 15 years old, and the man impregnating her is at least 10 years older than her,” said the Nov. 1 ruling, issued by Deputy Attorney General Paul C. Ament.
However, he said, it did not appear physicians were required to report suspected sexual intercourse and pregnancy “when the [female minor] is 16 or 17 years old,” according to a copy of the ruling provided to WorldNetDaily.
The interpretation of state child-abuse statutes and reporting requirements was requested in September by Dave Thornton, chief of enforcement for the Medical Board of California.
The request came on the heels of a report published in May by Texas-based Life Dynamics, Inc., a pro-life group. The report was based on an investigation by the organization that allegedly found abortion providers 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.”
Life Dynamics published an exhaustive study in which one researcher portrayed a 13-year-old girl made pregnant by her 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, said the study, 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.
Thornton’s clarification request 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.”
USJF charged that 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.
In most instances, the California AG’s office – headed by Attorney General Bill Lockyer – agreed.
State child-abuse statutes provide “that a ‘mandated reporter’ … make a child-abuse report whenever the reporter ‘has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect,’” said Ament, in his letter.
“Child abuse or neglect,” Ament continued, includes “sexual abuse,” which is defined as “sexual assault or … exploitation,” or “lewd and lascivious acts upon a child.”
USJF and Life Dynamics had contended that impregnation was de facto proof that the illegal contact had occurred. Ament agreed.
“It has been suggested that the reporting requirements … are abrogated by” other provisions of law, he wrote, and that “‘the pregnancy of a minor does not, in and of itself, constitute a basis for a reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse.’ However, the quoted language cannot be interpreted that broadly.”
Rather, Ament said, if the treating physician knew his patient was pregnant, was underage and had “additional information” – like the age of her partner – “the reporting requirement would be in effect” if he were legally too old to be having sexual intercourse with her.
In a Sept. 5 letter to Michael D. Antonovich – the Los Angeles County Fifth District supervisor who brought the issue of physicians at abortion clinics allegedly failing to report suspected sexual abuse of minors to Thornton’s attention – the medical board’s chief enforcer 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,” and, hence, would wait for a ruling from the AG’s office.
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