by Steven Ertelt
November 13, 2006
Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — A Mississippi state appeals court has declined to rule in a case in which the parents of a teenage girl misused the state’s parental consent on abortion law to get the teenager an abortion to hide an incident of sexual abuse against her.
Charlotte Sherron of Columbus was convicted in 2004 of helping her husband avoid prosecution for statutory rape in the sexual abuse of her minor daughter, who is his stepdaughter.
Sherron consented to her daughter’s abortion to hide evidence of the incest.
The parental consent law normally targets abortion centers and practitioners who fail to tell parents of a teenager’s request to have an abortion, but the Mississippi Court of Appeals had to decide if it could be used to prosecute Sherron.
The court declined to rule on that question, according to an Associated Press report.
"Since the time of the passage of the parental consent statute for minors acquiring an abortion, no prior Mississippi appellate court decision has considered criminalizing in this way a parent’s decision to consent to a minor child’s abortion," Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick wrote.
He said the court didn’t need to rule on the question because Sherron’s attorneys mentioned the application of the parental consent law but never made it part of their legal argument in her defense.
In the case, the local judge ruled against the defense saying Sherron’s prosecution interfered with her daughter’s right to have an abortion. According to AP, they didn’t raise the issue in the appeal.
Appeals Judge Larry Roberts dissented and said the court should have said there was no conflict in using the statute to help prosecute Sherron.
"In this case, Sherron’s conviction did not restrict her daughter’s right to an abortion, it established a restriction on Sherron’s right to conceal the fact that her husband committed statutory rape of her own daughter," he said.
According to AP, he said the state is allowed to charge a parent who consents to a teen’s abortion with the intention of covering up a crime.
"I find no constitutional protection that effectively immunizes Sherron’s behavior," Roberts wrote, according to AP.
Pro-life groups in several states have said that abortions are more frequently used to hide cases of sexual abuse and statutory rape.
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline had been leading the first state investigation into the abortion-sexual abuse connection, but he was defeated in last Tuesday’s elections. His replacement, abortion advocate Paul Morrison, said during the campaign he would shut down the probe.