Parents File Lawsuit Over Secret Abortion on Alaska Teenager

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 28, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Parents File Lawsuit Over Secret Abortion on Alaska Teenager Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 28, 2005

Anchorage, AK ( — A social worker affiliated with an Alaska hospital arranged a secret abortion for a 15 year-old teenager in Seattle paid for at government expense. The escapade is now the subject of a lawsuit.

The parents of the teen have filed suit against Providence Alaska Medical Center after learning that an employee there took their daughter for the abortion without their knowledge or consent.

The family, whose name is being withheld, became alarmed when their daughter didn’t return home from school one afternoon in March 2003. They only learned about their daughter’s whereabouts when an older daughter informed them.

Anchorage attorney Yale Metzger filed the lawsuit for the parents, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The suit names Providence Health System Alaska and Providence Family Practice Center as well as the social worker.

The secret abortion is the kind of case members of the House of Representatives had in mind when they passed legislation Wednesday seeking to uphold state parental involvement laws.

The measure, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, would make it illegal to take a teenager to another state for a secret abortion and avoided the girl’s home state’s parental involvement laws.

The girl in the Alaska lawsuit regrets her decision to have an abortion, Metzger said.

"Whether you agree or disagree with parental consent or parental notification, this isn’t the right way," he told the Anchorage newspaper.

Providence spokeswoman Karina Jennings said the Catholic medical facility doesn’t perform abortions but will refer patients to businesses that do.

"We believe we followed good sound medical practice in this case," Jennings told the Daily News, but would not elaborate no the lawsuit or the case.

According to the lawsuit, the teen knew her parents would not approve of the pregnancy but told her boyfriend’s mother she did not want to have an abortion.

Fifteen weeks into the pregnancy, the teen went to Providence for prenatal care. There, the social worker asked her to return alone later in the day. Then, the worker suggested the abortion and made arrangements with Cedar River Clinic abortion facility, near Seattle, operated by the Feminist Women’s Health Center.

The social worker also arranged for a state-funded insurance program for poor children, Denali KidCare, to pay for the abortion.

The teen’s parents desperately called police when they found their daughter missing, according to the Daily News report. Her family told officials, upon learning of the secret abortion, that they would gladly have helped their daughter raise the baby.

The social worker may have violated state law, which requires parents or legal guardians to accompany minors for out of state health care.