By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
State health officials in Alabama have put a Planned Parenthood clinic on probation after an undercover probe revealed clinic employees violating state laws requiring them to report potential cases of sexual abuse of minors.
The clinic, located in Birmingham, is just the latest on a long list of Planned Parenthood clinics that have been investigated for what appears to be a systemic practice of deliberately failing to report possible cases of sexual abuse against minors.
In the most recent case, undercover work by the pro-life advocacy group, Live Action, revealed a clinic employee telling a 14 year old girl who was seeking a “secret abortion” after being impregnated by her 31 year old boyfriend that the clinic “sometimes bends the rules a little bit.” The employee recommends that in order to hide the abortion from her parents, the child get the necessary signatures from someone other than a parent or legal guardian.
The sting resulted in an investigation of the clinic which found files revealing other cases of girls aged 13-15 being given abortions even though they were obviously victims of statutory rape.
This prompted state officials to put the clinic on probation for one year and requiring them to provide state health department authorities with a plan detailing how they will fix the problem of not reporting cases of sexual abuse of minors to authorities.
Being on probation will subject the clinic to increased inspections during which time the health department can start proceedings to revoke its license if the violations aren’t corrected or if more are found during the year.
Planned Parenthood responded by saying its staff normally acts in a professional way and promises to conduct its own internal probe.
“Planned Parenthood of Alabama provides high quality health care and takes any allegation of this nature very seriously,” the statement claimed. “An essential part of our mission is to protect teens, and to make sure that they get the counseling and medical care they need. We will conduct an internal, fact-based review to ensure that all our high standards of care have been met.”
Rick Harris, director of the state’s Bureau of Health Provider Standards, told the Associated Press that the problem was that employees are not being properly trained about the reporting requirements.
“You would think that an abortion clinic that intended to be law-abiding would have a lawyer or someone in the facility personally sit down and read what the statute requires and that obviously hadn’t been done,” he said.
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