Yesterday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed The Child Protection Act (House Bill 16) into law.   This protective new law is based, in significant part, on model legislation developed by AUL’s Vice President of Legal Affairs Denise Burke, a former state and federal prosecutor.

Developed in 2007, AUL’s innovative Child Protection Act helps ensure that all cases of suspected sexual abuse of minor girls are reported to state authorities and imposes strict penalties upon anyone who is found to be circumventing or attempting to circumvent these reporting requirements.  Further, by requiring that forensic tissue samples be turned over to state officials when an abortion is performed on a girl under the age of 14, AUL’s model language also provides police and prosecutors with the evidence necessary to punish abusers and protect young victims from further abuse.

Currently, all 50 states have laws requiring healthcare professionals and others to report the suspected sexual abuse of minors including statutory rape.  The federal government also mandates that Title X healthcare facilities comply with state criminal reporting laws.  However, as AUL documented in its groundbreaking report The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood, there is substantial and developing evidence that many family planning and abortion clinics – including some affiliated with the nation’s largest abortion provider – are not reporting all instances of suspected abuse, and are instead advising minors and their abusers on how to circumvent the law.  As a result, sexual predators are free to continue to abuse their victims, scarring them for life.

Sadly, sexual abuse of minors including statutory rape are major problems in the United States.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that half of all children born to minors are fathered by adult men.[1] HHS has also found that 75% of girls under 14 years of age who have had sex report having a forced sexual experience.[2]

[1] Asaph Glosser, Karen Gardinier & Mike Fishman, Statutory Rape: A Guide to State Laws and Reporting Requirements 1 (The Lewin Group ed., 2004).

[2] Id. at 1.