Life Legal cases prompt demand for PP investigation


Members of Congress are calling for HHS to investigate Planned Parenthood for its failure to report suspected child abuse cases. In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Avis, Rep. Vicky Hartzler and her colleagues cite a Life Legal case involving Denise Fairbanks, who had been sexually molested by her father since she was 13. When Denise became pregnant at 16, her father took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. 

Denise told the Planned Parenthood staff that she was being forced to have sex, but they did nothing. They did not report the rape and abuse to local law enforcement or any other authorities, as required by law. 

After the abortion, Denise was returned to her home, where she continued to be sexually abused for almost two more years. Ultimately, her father was apprehended through a report filed by Denise’s basketball coach and sent to jail.

For six years Planned Parenthood did everything possible to try to defeat my claims and drown out my message that, when Planned Parenthood knows or suspects that a young girl is being sexually abused, it must meet its duties under the law and immediately report that abuse to the proper authorities.

Life Legal came to my aid, and I was able to withstand Planned Parenthood’s attempt to force me to drop my suit.

—Denise Fairbanks

Life Legal litigated a similar case involving “Jane Roe.” Jane, at age 14, was impregnated by her 21-year-old soccer coach, who then took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. Instead of notifying Jane’s parents as required by law, Planned Parenthood called the soccer coach—her abuser.

PP’s failure to notify the parents and obtain the requisite consent resulted in Jane having the abortion—and in the continued cover-up of the sexual abuse. A teacher later reported the abuse and Jane’s coach was convicted of seven counts of sexual battery.

Rep. Hartzler and others are demanding an investigation into the nation’s largest abortion provider because “Planned Parenthood has continuously embraced a culture of turning a blind eye to suspected abuse. Rather than reporting suspicious incidents to authorities as state law often requires, Planned Parenthood has chosen repeatedly to perform abortions on children as young as 12 and 13 years old and then return these young clients to their abusers. Despite the evidence that reporting problems seem to be a pervasive part of the organization’s culture, Planned Parenthood facilities continue to receive Title X funding.”

Members of Congress expressed concern that “abusers feel comfortable taking their victims to Planned Parenthood,” and have requested records “regarding any and all incidents of Planned Parenthood Title X recipients’ failure to report suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care.”