Cover Story

Keeping secrets

Undercover tapes reveal that Planned Parenthood may be aiding and abetting statutory rapists

Issue: "Sex, lies, & audiotape," July 27, 2002

On May 30, a worker at a recycling center near Storm Lake, Iowa, found the body of a newborn baby boy. His body had been run through a shredder. Investigators are calling the death a murder, and want medical facilities in the area to release pregnancy test records that might reveal the identity of the baby's mother.

Most are cooperating, but Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa (PPGI) is refusing to turn over its records, even though a judge has ordered the group to do so. PPGI executive director Jill June told reporters on July 3, "We will exhaust all legal remedies available to us and we will not surrender these records."

This seems to be a pattern for PPGI. Another PPGI employee vowed silence in February when an apparent 13-year-old girl telephoned the group's Iowa City clinic saying she thought she was pregnant by a 22-year-old man. When the girl asked the employee whether the clinic would "tell anybody" if she came in for a pregnancy test, the employee replied: "Oh, absolutely not. We don't tell anybody about anything."

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That's a problem for parents and the public, since the situation the girl described is child sexual abuse-specifically, statutory rape-and personnel at medical clinics such as Planned Parenthood are required by law to report it. It's also a problem for Planned Parenthood, since undercover pro-life activists captured the conversation on tape.

And this problem isn't just in Iowa. From February through April 2002, Life Dynamics, a pro-life investigative group in Denton, Texas, employed a 23-year-old woman with a little-girl voice. Her job: to telephone family-planning clinics across the nation, including all 875 Planned Parenthood facilities, and tell the same story. That she was almost, but not quite, 14 years old, that she thought she was pregnant by her 22-year-old boyfriend, and that she didn't want her parents-or anyone-to know. In each case, the "girl" asked clinic personnel repeatedly if anyone or anybody would have to know about the age of her "boyfriend." The intent of the calls: to learn whether abortion and family-planning clinics would comply with laws requiring medical staffers to report suspected child sexual abuse.

Life Dynamics president Mark Crutcher said his group taped a total of 614 conversations between his caller and Planned Parenthood clinic workers. (Texas law allows recording of telephone calls without the consent or knowledge of the other party.) WORLD obtained 20 of those tapes. All reveal clinic employees agreeing to conceal or willfully ignore the felony sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by a 22-year-old man-even as many of the workers acknowledged on tape the criminal nature of the relationship. Mr. Crutcher said 516, or about eight in 10, Planned Parenthood workers across the nation responded in similar fashion.

Now clinic-licensing officials and attorneys in at least two states-Nebraska and Alaska-are reviewing Life Dynamics' tapes in preparation for possible action against Planned Parenthood. Connecticut Chief State's Attorney John Bailey, who reviewed tapes of clinics in his state in May, said the nation's largest aborter of unborn babies is "in violation of the law."

"Mandated reporter" laws in every state require medical personnel to report to child protective services (CPS) or law-enforcement officials any suspected child abuse. The job of investigating each incident lies not with the mandated reporter but with the state agency to which the report is made. State laws allowing minor girls to have abortions or obtain birth control without parental knowledge do not supercede or negate mandatory reporting laws.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, men older than 20 father two-thirds of all babies born to teenage mothers. Also, the younger the mother, the larger the age gap is likely to be between her and her partner. In setting up the telephone scenario for its investigation, Life Dynamics chose a sexual-partner age spread-13 and 22-that constitutes statutory rape in all 50 states.

The 20 tapes WORLD obtained included Life Dynamics' calls to Planned Parenthood clinics in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New Jersey, Utah, and Kentucky, as well as six different clinics in Nebraska. WTIC-TV, a Fox affiliate in Hartford, Conn., obtained 19 tapes that Mr. Crutcher said were recordings of calls to Connecticut clinics; 17 of the WTIC tapes were different than those WORLD obtained.

To verify the tapes' authenticity, WORLD performed a two-step process. Each tape contained a call to a single clinic, and began with a series of telephone touch-tones Life Dynamics said were produced when its operative dialed that facility. Using a speaker-phone and a tape player, WORLD first played the touch-tones on each tape aloud while dialing the number to the clinic Life Dynamics claimed was recorded on a particular tape. All the tones matched.

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