by Steven Ertelt
December 16, 2005
Indianapolis, IN (LifeNews.com) — An investigation by the Indiana Attorney General into whether Planned Parenthood abortion businesses reported cases of statutory sexual abuse received a hearing at a federal appeals court Thursday.
An attorney for Planned Parenthood told the court that a federal law seeking to prevent Medicaid fraud could not be used by state officials to obtain records of young teenagers who visited the abortion business.
State officials want the documents to see if underage girls are being victimized.
Ken Falk of the Indiana branch of the ACLU told the court that the Medicaid provision couldn’t be used to hold Planned Parenthood accountable on reporting cases of statutory rape.
‘‘Failure to report is not neglect because you’re not the injurer of the child,” Falk said, according to an Associated Press report.
Indiana law considers sex with anyone under the age of 14 statutory rape and requires anyone with knowledge of such sexual abuse to report it to authorities.
The AP report indicated Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said the debate was really about whether Planned Parenthood an invoke its right against unlawful search and seizure related to the documents.
Fisher said providers of Medicaid-funded services agree to provide medical records upon request or risk losing the funding they receive to provide those services.
Fisher told the judges that the attorney general’s office has broad powers to investigate, but Falk replied that the Planned Parenthood records likely wouldn’t tell officials if the girl had sex or not.
Planned Parenthood has requested that the appeals court grant a temporary injunction preventing the state from accessing the records while the case it litigated.
In June, Marion Superior Court Judge Kenneth Johnson rejected the stay request, which would have halted Attorney General Steve Carter’s bid to obtain the records of 84 girls under the age of 14 who visited Planned Parenthoods throughout the state.
Judge Johnson said the abortion business must comply and turn over the records to Carter’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to help his office look into the possible rapes.
”The great public interest in the reporting, investigation and prosecution of child abuse trumps even the patient’s interest in privileged communication with her physicians because, in the end, both the patient and the state are benefited by the disclosure,” Johnson wrote.
Carter spokeswoman Staci Schneider said one of the purposes of the investigation was to pursue neglect charges against Planned Parenthood for not reporting the possible rapes.
Falk says none of the 84 girls in question had abortions.
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is watching the state as he is involved in a similar dispute with abortion businesses there that are refusing to comply with his sexual abuse investigation.
Kline told AP that the issues in Kansas and Indiana are similar.
"It is very common for prosecutors to seek medical records and to be concerned about predators preying on children," Kline said. "What is unusual is for doctors not to cooperate with child rape investigations."