“Maybe when you go to the doctor, you shouldn’t tell them how old your boyfriend is.”
“What you need to do is you need to call completely anonymously, and, ya know, talk to someone on our appointment line. And don’t tell us anything about who your partner is, okay?”
“So what I’m saying is we’re not going to ask if you don’t tell us.”
“Well, I’ll be honest with you. By law, because you are 13 years old, we should [report]. But we’ve never reported anybody, okay?”
These are just a few of the responses a caller identifying herself as a 13-year-old girl pregnant by a 22-year-old predator received when she called abortion clinics across the country. With clinic personnel coaching girls before they get to the clinics, and abortionists playing see-no-evil / hear-no-evil / speak-no-evil, statutory rapists and sexual predators can easily arrange “confidential services” for their victims to cover up their crimes. Where parental involvement laws are in effect, these evasions should be irrelevant. Abortionists may play their games, but Mom or Dad is going to ask questions, demand answers, and put a stop to the abusive relationship—that is, if the clinics comply with their legal duty to notify parents. Planned Parenthood personnel tried to play the ignorance-is-bliss game with a young girl in Ohio, but now their only game is defense.
Jane Roe was only 13 years old when her soccer coach, John Haller, began sexually abusing her. She became pregnant, and shortly after her 14th birthday, Haller contacted Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region to schedule an abortion for her. The clinic told him that Jane would have to schedule the abortion herself, and, under pressure from Haller, she did so.
Later, he went to the clinic to pick up the information packet required to be given to abortion patients under Ohio’s informed consent law. Under Ohio law, women seeking abortions must be provided with written information about fetal development and abortion alternatives and must receive information orally from a physician, including the probable gestational age of the child and the medical risks of the abortion. In the case of 14-year-old Jane, she says, Planned Parenthood simply handed the packet of materials to the man who was responsible for her pregnancy and was pressuring her to abort.
Haller then brought Jane to the clinic and paid for the abortion, claiming he was her stepbrother. Jane had provided the clinic with her father’s name and address for notification purposes, but used Haller’s cell phone number. The abortion doctor, Roslyn Kade, then called Haller and gave him “actual notice” of the abortion he had arranged. With that formality out of the way, Kade proceeded to abort Jane’s child.
Further demonstrating what a caring, responsible person he was, Haller paid for Jane to have an injection of Depo-Provera, a long-lasting contraceptive with a questionable safety record, before they left. Planned Parenthood personnel obligingly provided the shot to the 14-year-old. Shortly after the abortion, Haller broke off the relationship, and Jane began a downward emotional spiral. Her parents observed the change in her with deep concern but no idea of the cause. Some weeks after the abortion, a teacher at Jane’s school overheard some other students talking about the relationship between Jane and Haller, and brought it to the attention of school authorities, who then notified the police. The police began an investigation, which led to Haller’s conviction and imprisonment on multiple counts of sexual battery on a minor.
During that investigation, Jane’s distraught parents first learned of her pregnancy and abortion and the role Planned Parenthood had played in killing their grandchild and covering up the victimization of their daughter. They contacted veteran LLDF volunteer attorney Tom Condit, who filed suit against Planned Parenthood. The complaint alleges violation of not only of the parental involvement laws, (1) but also the state’s informed consent and mandatory reporting of abuse laws.
As the case progressed, Condit was grateful for the legal expertise of Brian Hurley and Kathy Hidy of the Cincinnati firm of Crabbe, Brown and James. Hurley had been aware of the case and was watching its progress with growing interest—and outrage. The last straw was when, after its unsuccessful attempts to get the case dismissed, Planned Parenthood cross-complained against Jane for fraud. When that happened, Hurley and Hidy jumped into the fray. They were later joined by Todd Wilkowski of Keating, Muething and Klekamp and Nick Bunch of White, Getgey and Meyer.
One of the first things Hurley and Hidy did was to raise the issue of a conflict between Planned Parenthood and its attorney, Alphonse Gerhardstein, a long-time abortion advocate. The conflict arose because Planned Parenthood alleged advice of counsel as an affirmative defense in its answer. When Hurley made it clear that he would delve into the exact nature of that advice, Gerhardstein withdrew, and Planned Parenthood was forced to retain other counsel. The legal team then decided to seek Planned Parenthood’s records concerning abortions on minors to determine whether the abortion business had a practice of violating the state laws requiring parental notification and the reporting of suspected child abuse. The defendants then rolled out the big guns, calling in attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation in New York to support their local attorneys. Violation of privacy, they cried, despite the fact that all identifying information would be redacted from the patient records (and despite the fact that Planned Parenthood itself had deliberately revealed Jane’s true name in public court documents.) Conspiracy, they yelled, alleging that “anti-abortion groups are ready to pounce on ‘non-identifying information’ to deduce the identities of the patients.”
Fortunately, despite the legal firepower arrayed against Jane’s lawyers, the judge ruled that Planned Parenthood must produce the redacted records. The defendants immediately filed an appeal, which is now pending. They are arguing, as they did in the lower court, that the production of redacted, non-identifying information about minor patients places an “undue burden on a woman’s fundamental right to terminate her pregnancy.” In their brief, the plaintiffs responded: “Taken to its logical conclusion, Appellants’ argument is that, because they are abortion providers, neither the State of Ohio, in criminal actions, nor citizens, in civil actions, may ever access information necessary to establish that Appellants have breached their statutory duty.”
Indeed, as Hurley further notes: “To preclude this type of inquiry would, in essence, permit abortion providers to be completely selfregulating and force plaintiffs and states to rely entirely on the self-serving representations of abortion providers that they are complying with the law.”
LLDF continues to support Jane’s parents and lawyers in their efforts to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their callous disregard of the rights of Jane, her parents, and her child. “We’re in this for the long haul” Hurley says, “but so is Planned Parenthood. Without the support of LLDF and others who are outraged by what happened to Jane, Planned Parenthood would make it prohibitively expensive for Jane and other girls like her to pursue their claims that Planned Parenthood has breached its duties with respect to notification of parents and law enforcement, as well as to obtain informed consent. We should make it more, not less, difficult for sexual predators such as Jane’s coach to use secret abortions to conceal their crimes.”
1. Ohio’s parental consent law (Ohio R.S. §2919.121) was challenged shor tly after its passage in 1998, and the state attorney general agreed to a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of its criminal provisions. This left only the state’s pre-existing notification law (R.S. §2919.12) in effect as to criminal liability while the other challenge was pending. However, the stipulated injunction with the state could not and did not bind third parties such as Jane’s parents, who were not parties to that suit. Therefore, Jane’s parents may sue under the civil liability provisions of both the enjoined consent law and the notification law. In 2005, a federal court ruled that the consent law was constitutional, and lifted the injunction against the state enforcement. This ruling was affirmed in Cincinnati Women’s Service. Inc. v. Taft, 468 F.3d 361 (6th Cir. 2006).