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NRL News
Page 9
April 2009
Volume 36
Issue 4

New Video Shows Counselors Skirting Statutory Rape Laws in Arizona
What Planned Parenthood Tells Teens behind Clinic Doors
By Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

The first time might be an aberration. The second might be explained as an unfortunate coincidence. But now, with yet more Planned Parenthood employees caught on tape ignoring what appears to be clear evidence of statutory rape, a pattern appears to be developing.

We’ve written before about such cases in North Carolina and Indiana (Today’s News & Views, 12/5/08, 12/15/08), but now comes word of similar occurrences caught on tape at three different Planned Parenthood clinics in Arizona. Lila Rose, a 20-year-old student from UCLA, along with another young college student, Jackie Stollar, visited Planned Parenthood clinics in Tucson and Phoenix last July, with Stollar posing as a 15-year-old girl who had been impregnated by her 27-year-old boyfriend.

Apparently, no one at the clinics reported what had been clearly described as a statutory rape to authorities. According to Arizona law, sex between an adult and a minor is a felony. Any health care provider who has reason to suspect any such abuse is to report that to law enforcement authorities or child protective services immediately.

The video tapes can be viewed at Transcripts and descriptions have been generated from the tapes.

At Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Center in Tucson, Rose and Stollar meet with a counselor, who tells the young women about the two basic types of abortion, surgical and chemical, and tells them the prices ($435 for the surgical, $425 for the chemical, before any of the extras are added in). After asking about her last menstrual cycle and dating the “pregnancy” at 10 weeks, she tells Stollar she does not qualify for the chemical abortion. Then, you can hear on the tape, she asks her age.

PP Counselor: Are you a minor? How old are you?

Girl: I’m 15.

PP: Yeah, we are going to be needing a consentment [sic] from your parents. If you don’t want your parents to know, I need to give you some papers so you can go...

Girl: My parents can’t know about it.

PP: Ok, so, we can help you out. Let me get you some information, ok?

The counselor leaves and another staffer comes to talk to the girl. The girl repeats that she is looking to get an abortion and that she is 15 and doesn’t want to tell her parents. The staffer tells her she can get around that with a judicial bypass and suggests that she “dress up nicely” when appearing before the judge so she will “look mature.”

After the staffer explains the abortion procedure (telling the girl it will be “a little bit uncomfortable,” but that “it doesn’t hurt”), they then discuss the court procedure and whether or not the girl’s boyfriend should accompany her.

PP Staffer: They say that it’s better to have him with you for support.

Girl’s Friend: Cause he’s...

Girl: Older

PP: How old? Like is he, um, um, not a minor?

Girl: No, he’s not.

Friend: He’s 27.

PP: I wouldn’t take him with me, no. Don’t, I mean, don’t take him with you.

Girl: Ok,

PP: Just say...

Girl: Are they going to ask me about him?

PP: Read this. All this is in here, but you don’t have to say anything.

Legally, the staffer needs to hear no more than this. The law says that if she has any reason to suspect a minor has been having sexual relations with an adult, she is supposed to report it. Nothing on the tapes indicates that this happened here or at the other Arizona clinics visited by Rose and Stollar.

At the first Phoenix Planned Parenthood clinic they visit, the staffer tells Stollar about the bypass as soon as she asks how old she has to be to get an abortion. They tell her they have someone on staff to facilitate that. “[Y]ou would have to call our counselor and arrange it with her and what she will do is she will go with you to court. From what I hear it’s a very, um, easy process.”

Stollar mentions that her boyfriend is “a lot older than me” and expresses concern about whether the counselor or the judge will ask questions about that. The staffer tells her she would probably confide in the counselor about that, but assured her that the counselor is “really good at, she wants to help anybody who comes to her.” Rose, Stollar’s “friend,” asks,

Friend: So like if he came in and paid for it, like with her, that wouldn’t be an issue?

PP Staffer: No, we don’t ask any questions... It’s only a big issue if you’re under, um, if you’re 13 or under.

Actually, the law is triggered by the sexual activity of any adult with any minor under the age of 18, and medical personnel are to report any instances they hear of.

Rose and Stollar are sent to a second Planned Parenthood clinic in the area where someone named “Misty” is supposed to help them obtain the judicial bypass. Misty does not appear to be in when they visit, but Rose and Stollar talk to another staffer.

Girl: I’m really scared right now because she’s the only friend who knows about it, and my boyfriend knows about it, but my parents don’t [know] about it, and my boyfriend’s like “You need to get this taken care of ’cause I’m gonna get in trouble, and ...”

PP Staffer: Is he older?

Friend: Mmm, yeah. Sorry.

Girl: Well, how older?

PP: I mean everything’s confidential here, you know what I mean?

Friend: He’s 27.

PP: Okay.

The counselor never raises the issue of illegality. But as the discussion continues, she assures Stollar that she can tell Misty about her older boyfriend, since “everything is confidential.”

Copies of the video tapes were made available to county authorities in Tucson and Phoenix and to the Arizona state attorney general, but as of yet, no charges have been filed.

Though it claims that changes were made before the tapes became public, it does appear that the exposure has made Planned Parenthood more cautious. Cynde Cerf, director of communication and marketing for Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ), said that procedures are now in place to make sure that clinicians are trained in how to talk with patients (Arizona Republic, 3/25/09). And young women or girls who appear to be victims of crime are told that Planned Parenthood has a legal obligation to report any suspicions to authorities. Since February 1 through March 20, Cerf says that PPAZ has reported 24 cases of suspected abuse.

That’s what’s supposed to happen every time a minor shows up a Planned Parenthood clinic claiming to be impregnated by an adult boyfriend. It apparently hasn’t been the case at several Planned Parenthood clinics across the country in the last few months. Does Planned Parenthood have as little respect for the law as it does for life?