By Mailee R. Smith, Staff Counsel
I wrote yesterday that Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has been a pro-life stalwart for many years, championing the health and safety of women in his home state of Ohio and across the nation. Not only has he acted to protect women from the harms of RU-486, but he has also acted to protect minors from the harms of sexual abuse and secret abortions.
Just last month, the American public was justifiably outraged when it was revealed that a high school in Seattle, Washington arranged a minor’s secret abortion, failing to even notify her mother. Much discussion and debate followed over how this could have been permitted to happen. Notably, Washington does not require parental involvement before a minor can undergo an abortion.
Unfortunately, this type of coercion and abuse of minors is something we see on a regular basis, and highlights the needs for cohesive regulations requiring parental involvement before an abortion is performed on a minor.
Yet it takes more than just a law—the courts must actually enforce the law. This was never more apparent than in a recent Ohio case where a 14-year-old girl (identified as “Jane” in court documents) was impregnated by her 21-year-old soccer coach. After being pressured by the coach to have an abortion, “Jane” called a local Planned Parenthood clinic and gave them the coach’s telephone number, claiming it was her “father’s” number. Later, well-aware of “Jane’s” age and the likelihood that she had been the victim of a sexual crime, Planned Parenthood performed the abortion, which was paid for by coach.
Planned Parenthood did not notify or receive consent from “Jane’s” parents, nor did it ensure that the phone number she provided was truly her father’s number. “Jane” and her parents later filed suit, claiming that Planned Parenthood violated Ohio law requiring parental involvement before abortion, as well as a law mandating the reporting of suspected sexual crimes against minors.
During preparation for trial, “Jane” and her parents requested documents from Planned Parenthood that would demonstrate whether or not Planned Parenthood exhibited a pattern and practice of failing to follow Ohio’s parental involvement laws and mandatory sexual crimes reporting law. Planned Parenthood refused to hand over the documents (even after each patient’s personal and identifying information had been redacted).
Ultimately, the issue of access to Planned Parenthood’s records was decided by the Ohio Supreme Court, where Minority Leader Boehner and AUL once again teamed up to file an amicus curiae brief. That brief detailed the horrific risks minors face after abortion and emphasized that the failure of Planned Parenthood to abide by the law and turn over necessary, redacted records allowed it to effectively hide sexual crimes against minors, allowing such crimes to continue.
While the Ohio Supreme Court ultimately decided that the records did not have to be turned over to “Jane” and her parents, a strong case for the need to protect minors from the harms of abortion and continued sexual abuse was made.
The brief in this case is available here.