An online petition addressed to the Justice Department accuses Planned Parenthood-sponsored abortion clinics of hiding sexual abuse of children under the guise of a teen-age girl’s purported right to privacy.

The petition – to be sent to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson – cites a number of local cases brought against Planned Parenthood, including a judgment by an Arizona court for failing to report the sexual abuse of minors as required by law.

The abortion clinics are “encouraging child sexual abuse, winking at statutory rape and concealing pedophiles,” wrote Richard Ackerman, litigation counsel for the United States Justice Foundation.

Ackerman said Planned Parenthood is “displaying an arrogance beyond everything I’ve ever seen,” seeking to “silence any opposition through legal intimidation.” The San Diego lawyer said the group threatened him with state bar disciplinary action and a $20,000 financial punishment for presenting evidence of the organization’s wrongdoing.

“Planned Parenthood’s attorney promised to bankrupt me or anyone who dares to challenge their policy,” he said.

The petition refers to a study last year reported by WorldNetDaily, which demonstrated that 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.”

A researcher with Texas-based Life Dynamics – impersonating a 13-year-old girl made pregnant by a 22-year-old boyfriend – told the clinics that she wanted an abortion “because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship.” The group said that in 91 percent of their calls, the person they reached at the center agreed to conceal the statutory rape. Planned Parenthood’s national office refused to give WND a response to the study.

Ackerman notes that the inspector for the California Health & Human Services Department issued a July, 2, 2002, report stating that Planned Parenthood “failed to ensure that there was a policy and procedure to ensure compliance with the legal requirements relative to the treatment of minors.”

One week after the report was issued, said Ackerman, a Planned Parenthood attorney appeared with him on national television, claiming that the organization abides by all laws governing the treatment of minors.

Shortly before that appearance, however, Ackerman continued, Planned Parenthood adopted a written policy that “[c]larified that we are not legally obligated to ask [a] partner’s age.”

“In other words,” Ackerman said, “Planned Parenthood doesn’t care about finding out who’s raping America’s children.”

In his letter to Ashrcroft and Thompson, Ackerman wrote, “One can only hope your office cares more about protecting the physical safety of our nation’s children than in protecting molesters and those who refuse to assist local prosecutors in identifying sexual predators and bringing them to justice.”

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