At Planned Parenthood of the Southwest Region, a clock is ticking. Not only does the Cincinnati branch of the tax-funded abortion giant have to respond to the lawsuit a young Ohio woman filed on May 7, but the suit contains some of the most damaging evidence yet of what pro-life activists have been saying for years: that Planned Parenthood clinic workers ignore suspected sexual abuse of minor girls despite "mandated reporter" laws that require them to report such abuse to authorities.
Evidence of the practice has been piling up for at least five years:
- In summer 2002, Life Dynamics (LD), a Texas pro-life group, went public with a nationwide sting operation that caught hundreds of Planned Parenthood clinic workers on tape conspiring to conceal statutory rape. An LD activist posing as a 13-year-old girl made pregnant by a 22-year-old man called every Planned Parenthood clinic in the country. A call to an Iowa City clinic yielded a typical response: When the "girl" asked the clinic worker whether Planned Parenthood would "tell anybody" of the illicit relationship, the worker replied, "Absolutely no one at all, and you will pay cash for this if you have this abortion, and there is no paper trail." When LD published the results of its telephone operation, Planned Parenthood issued a flurry of statements saying its workers always report suspected sexual abuse.
- In March 2005, the parents of "Jane Roe," a 14-year-old Ohio girl, sued Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to report the statutory rape of their daughter by her 21-year-old soccer coach. The coach began having sex with the girl when she was 13 and in 2004, took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, paying for the operation with his credit card. An attorney for the group said the man actively misled clinic workers, posing as the girl's stepbrother. Regional Planned Parenthood CEO Susan Momeyer called the allegation of rape cover-ups "an old charge without foundation."
- In May 2007, pro-life activist Lila Rose, an 18-year-old UCLA sophomore, visited two Los Angeles Planned Parenthood clinics with fellow activist James O'Keefe, 22. Rose concealed a camcorder in her pocket and pretended to be 15 and pregnant by O'Keefe, who said he was 23. Rose videotaped a Planned Parenthood clinic worker coaching her to falsify her birth date in order to conceal statutory rape. A worker at a second clinic told Rose and O'Keefe that she had been pregnant at age 17: "If I would do it again, I would not continue the pregnancy," the worker told the couple.
Rose and O'Keefe posted their tapes on YouTube, igniting a brief and exclusively conservative media storm. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Kathy Kneer admitted to CNS News that the clinic employees had broken mandated reporter laws. Then on May 14, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles president and CEO Mary-Jane Wagle sent Rose a letter threatening to sue her if she did not remove the videotapes from the internet and turn over the originals.
The latter action shocked Rose, who told WORLD that after receiving the letter she sat on her bed in her dorm room and cried-not out of fear, but grief: "I was just, like, what is the world coming to when this tax-receiving, billion-dollar organization is coming after me, an 18-year-old girl, who just wants to see young girls protected?"
The Rose/O'Keefe videotapes hit the internet just days after the Warren County suit made news in Ohio, and seven years after John Blanks, the biological father of Denise, began sexually abusing her at age 13. In 2000, Blanks began treating his daughter as his wife, the May 7 complaint alleges, forcing her to share his bed. In 2004, Blanks impregnated Denise and took her to Planned Parenthood's Auburn Avenue clinic in Cincinnati to get rid of the baby. Blanks hovered as Denise filled out forms and underwent counseling for an abortion. But after the abortion was complete, Denise found herself alone with a clinic worker and seized the moment to reveal that she had been forced to perform sexual acts.
The clinic worker did not forward the report, and Denise walked out of the clinic with her father, who continued to rape her for at least another year and a half. In 2006, Denise moved away to attend college at the University of Dayton. There, she confided the abuse to her basketball coach, who had noticed that, strangely, Blanks kept showing up at practices.
The coach reported Blanks, who is now serving five years in prison. Denise wants Planned Parenthood to pay for not answering her cry for help, as it was legally bound to do. Her attorney, Brian Hurley, wants finally to unmask what he believes is the abortion giant's "pattern and practice" of failure to report abuse.
He may have a running start. Hurley is also the attorney in the "Jane Roe" case in Ohio. Last June, a Hamilton County, Ohio, judge ordered the Cincinnati Planned Parenthood clinic to turn over records on all abortions performed on girls under age 18. The order is believed to be the first of its kind in a civil case. The abortion agency protested vehemently and immediately appealed. Oral arguments in the appeal took place on May 15, but the case may take years to resolve.
"I think this is what they do," said Hurley. "They say, 'We're going to outspend you. We're going to bury you'-unless you have some lawyers who come along and say, 'No, no: You're not going to get away with this.'"
Already, Denise's case has turned up what may be significant evidence: While deposing a Planned Parenthood employee who trains clinic workers on how to comply with mandated reporter laws, Hurley uncovered in her files a handwritten note that said, "suspect v. don't ask/don't tell." A copy of the note is attached to the May 7 complaint.
Hurley contends the note shows that Planned Parenthood of the Southwest Region has either a formal or tacit "don't ask/don't tell" policy regarding the reporting of sexual abuse. "They will argue that the note means nothing," Hurley said. "But what is the notation 'don't ask/don't tell' doing in a trainer's file on how to report sexual abuse?"
Also attached to the May 7 complaint is a photocopy of a "Documentation Form for Suspected Sexual or Child Abuse Report" signed by Cincinnati center manager Laura Providenti. Regarding the case of a 16-year-old girl, Providenti wrote: "Patient reports pregnancy is a result of sexual assault by a stranger." Instead of reporting the assault to police, Providenti consulted a Planned Parenthood attorney and noted the result: She did not need to tell police "due to physician-patient privilege. We are prohibited from reporting as no severe bodily injury was reported."
The form is dated 9/30/04, about two months before Denise says she told a worker at the same clinic that she had been raped.
The Ohio teen's lawsuit produced a grand total of two stories in mainstream media, both in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Meanwhile, the story of Rose and O'Keefe's videotapes appeared only in conservative media like The O'Reilly Factor, Human Events, and CNS News (CNS captured the tapes for internet posterity before Rose complied with Planned Parenthood's request to remove them from YouTube).
"If Lila had uncovered dark secrets at Exxon Mobil or Wal-Mart, her exposé would likely be the centerpiece of a scathing 20/20 profile on the abuse of corporate power," said Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel David French, who is advising Rose and O'Keefe. "But this is abortion, a sacrament of the left and in the eyes of mainstream media, Planned Parenthood can do no wrong. The idea that mainstream media stands on the side of regular people policing the behavior of powerful organizations is patently false. Instead they are downright complicit in the abuses of power of those that they favor. You can see that here with the absolutely deafening silence."