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NRL News
Page 19
February/March 2010
Volume 37
Issue 2-3

Alabama Abortion Clinic Put on Probation

By Dave Andrusko

When does something move beyond an “isolated event” to indicate a pattern of behavior? The Associated Press has reported that a Birmingham, Alabama, Planned Parenthood abortion clinic has been placed on probation for a year. State inspectors “cited problems with the reporting of suspected sexual abuse and how parental consent was obtained for minors,” according to the AP.

The action follows an investigation by the pro-life organization “Life Action.” Lila Rose, its president, “posed as a 14-year-old girl who was impregnated by her 31-year-old boyfriend and told employees at the Birmingham clinic she needed to have a secret abortion,” according to the Associated Press’s Desiree Hunter.

The 2008 discussion with clinic staff was captured on audiotape. A Planned Parenthood staffer can be heard “saying the clinic sometimes bends the rules and suggested that someone other than a parent or legal guardian could give consent for a minor to have an abortion,” according to AP.

Rose, a 21-year-old college student, told Hunter, “We have seen this across the country in our investigative work and released videos from several other states showing the same activity.”

According to the AP, the tape was released last year. Reviewing clinic records, state health inspectors “found that nine minors, ages 13–15, had received abortions without proper verification of parental consent since November 2008.”

Also, there were “concerns about reporting child abuse,” the AP reported. “One of the 13-year-olds who received an abortion reported starting having sex at age 12 and having three partners in the previous year. She was back at the clinic for another abortion four months later and said she had now had four sexual partners in her life.”

While state medical authorities did place the clinic on probation, judging by the comments in the AP story the only offenses were “technical.”

Hunter explained that the Code of Alabama requires that minors present clinics with a consent form and verify that the signature is that of their parent or legal guardian. “The code requires the minor to sign the form as verification, but the clinic’s forms don’t have a space for that,” Hunter reported.

Rick Harris, director of the state’s Bureau of Health Provider Standards, went so far as to tell Hunter, “They were doing stuff that they weren’t required to do, but they weren’t doing the one thing that they were required to do,” adding, “That’s why we say they didn’t technically meet the requirements of the parental consent statute.”

Contacted by Hunter, Alabama Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Felicia Brown-Williams responded with an e-mail.”We will continue to take every necessary step to ensure that every aspect of our services meets legal and professional standards and is consistent with Planned Parenthood’s high standards of patient care,” she wrote.

The clinic “is subject to increased inspections while on probation,” the AP reported.