A California-based legal group is threatening to sue a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic because the facility allegedly failed to protect sexually abused minors and because it may have utilized unlicensed personnel in abortion procedures.
Richard D. Ackerman, litigation counsel for United States Justice Foundation, said he has evidence supporting his claims in the form of sworn testimony from two Planned Parenthood employees, as well as records from the San Diego Police Department and the California Department of Health Planning Services.
The USJF counsel said he was prompted to act following the release of a report by Life Dynamics, a Texas-based pro-life organization that alleges Planned Parenthood clinics across the country have been “knowingly concealing sex-abuse crimes.”
“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 Life Dynamics report.
Life Dynamics accused Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation of “knowingly” concealing the crimes of sexual abuse of minors “while aiding and abetting the sexual predators who commit them.”
Ackerman says documents provided him by San Diego police, coupled with “some of the state reporting” done by Planned Parenthood, have enabled him to confirm “most of what Life Dynamics had to say.”
“There is plenty of corroborating evidence,” he added – so much so that he said he was motivated to file a formal complaint with the Medical Board of California.
To support his allegations, Ackerman supplied copies of California superior court hearing transcripts, which contain testimony from Planned Parenthood employees.
According to the testimony, dated Nov. 14, 2001, the employees – Marie Wilkerson, Avecita Mucino and Vanessa Ayala – appear to be admitting that they helped doctors and other medical staff perform “hundreds” of abortions, and that they had little or no training to do so.
The medical board acknowledged receipt of Ackerman’s complaint in a June 12 letter, which said officials were “currently reviewing the information” contained in the complaint.
Asked if he planned legal action against the national Planned Parenthood organization, Ackerman said his scope was currently limited because of the nature of the suit.
“If I’m going to bring an unfair business practices or a consumer legal remedies case [against Planned Parenthood],” California statutes require that “I have to do it against each live entity,” he told WorldNetDaily.
In a June 7 “Intent to File Litigation” letter to Planned Parenthood of San Diego, Ackerman accused the clinic of using unlicensed personnel to “perform the procedures, diagnoses and treatments” of patients who used the facility.
“You have had unlicensed personnel performing invasive medical procedures on patients within the last three years,” the letter said. “Your failure to advise patients as to the qualifications, or lack thereof, of your employees is misleading and harmful to California consumers.”
Also, the letter blamed the clinic for unlawfully failing “to report the sexual abuse of minors by adult perpetrators,” as required by California statute and as alleged in the Life Dynamics report.
By law, the clinic has 30 days from receipt of the letter to address the accusations, and must provide “proof of compliance,” as per the provisions of the California Consumer Remedies Act. Ackerman said the clinic had not yet contacted him.
Officials at the Planned Parenthood affiliate for San Diego and Riverside counties – which has jurisdiction over the clinic in question – did not return multiple requests for comment.
Meanwhile, California lawmakers are considering a bill called the Reproductive Privacy Act that would allow abortion clinics to use “non-physicians” to perform the procedure.
Ackerman, in a critique of the legislation sent to Elizabeth Hill, an analyst for the California legislature, and Assemblyman Dave Cox, the Republican minority leader in the Assembly, said the bill “is not pragmatically sound and would be detrimental to the health and safety of California’s women.”
According to the California chapter of Planned Parenthood, S.B. 1301 “allows health-care providers, acting within their particular scopes of practice, to perform or assist in the performance of surgical and non-surgical abortions.” Officials there say the legislation is needed because abortions “are singled out for regulation that doesn’t apply even to more complex procedures.”
The legislation also “will provide greater access to early abortion methods like mifepristone (RU-486) by eliminating arbitrary barriers that currently impede the ability of licensed health-care professionals to treat patients in the area of reproductive health,” said a chapter analysis of the legislation.
“One of the original justifications for Roe v. Wade was that, without the legalization of abortion, unlicensed, untrained personnel would be participating in such procedures, at great risk to their patients,” said Gary Kreep, executive director of USJF. “Now, in search of the almighty dollar, Planned Parenthood is seeking to reduce their overhead by having untrained, unlicensed, non-doctors involved in this invasive surgery, in order to save money, without caring at all about the risk to the patient.
“Once again, Planned Parenthood has shown that its high-sounding rhetoric in support of abortion has nothing to do with a woman’s right to ‘choose,’ but instead has to do with profit and greed, pure and simple,” he said.
Sue Dunlap, a spokeswoman for the California chapter of Planned Parenthood, defended the proposed legislation and said it would replace “outdated” state law governing abortions signed into law by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1967.
If passed, the new law “would let mid-level practitioners – physician’s assistants, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners – to dispense RU-486,” said Dunlap, referring to the drug mifepristone, which causes “medical abortions,” or abortions without the need for surgery, according to WebMD.com.
“We consider that a non-surgical abortion,” Dunlap said.
In regards to surgical abortions, she said the measure would permit mid-level medical personnel “to assist,” adding that California law currently prohibits their assistance in surgical abortions.
Dunlap denied knowledge of USJF’s lawsuit or charges that unqualified San Diego clinic personnel had been participating in surgical abortions. But Ackerman said the practice appears dubious.
“Women are not told that unlicensed personnel will be assisting in surgical procedures,” he said. “Some of their personnel have no licenses whatsoever and only a few months of training before they are allowed to ‘assist’ in abortion procedures.”
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