Last week, the Louisiana Department of Justice announced suspicions about alleged criminal activity that may have happened at the abortion business at the center of a high-profile U.S. Supreme Court case.
Now, a new report suggests that the allegations may relate to the sexual abuse of young girls.
The Louisiana Department of Justice accused the Hope Medical Group abortion business of hiding evidence of criminal and professional misconduct from the Supreme Court as it challenges a state abortion clinic regulation law.
Last week, the DOJ asked a federal court to unseal documents in the case so that state authorities can investigate. Because of the court-ordered seal, the DOJ did not mention the nature of the allegations.
This week, however, a Washington Times report provided more clues.
According to the report:
While declining to address specifics of the Hope case, the Louisiana attorney general’s office said the state’s abortion clinics have a disturbing pattern of failing to report rapes, and that a survey it conducted showed that between 2013 and 2018 at least 66 abortions were performed on girls 11, 12 or 13 years old. The ages indicate that the girls were survivors of rape.
More comprehensive data has been withheld from regulators and the public, state officials contend, because at least two abortion clinics that closed recently shredded all their documents when they shut down.
“The evidence and statistics abortion providers are using to claim abortions are safe are national and not state-specific,” [Louisiana Solicitor General Liz] Murrill argued. “This narrative they have that everything they do is safe and helpful is not true.”
Kelly Krause, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case, denied the allegations.
“These claims are simply untrue,” Krause told the Washington Times. “For years, the state of Louisiana has been relying on baseless attacks on abortion providers to defend its unconstitutional abortion restrictions and this is only the latest example.”
At issue before the Supreme Court is a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies. The high court agreed to take the case in October.
The Supreme Court struck down a similar Texas law in 2016, arguing it burdened women’s access to abortion. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Louisiana law in 2018, saying it “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women.”
The new criminal allegations add another element of concern to the already closely watched case.
According to the state prosecutors, the possible wrong-doing normally would prompt a criminal referral. However, a federal judge sealed documents in the case, making their ability to prosecute difficult, according to the department.
“As [Department of Justice] officers, if we learn of potentially criminal activity during litigation, we have a legal obligation to report it to criminal investigators and licensing authorities,” Murrill said in a statement. “We also have a basic legal duty to protect the public from dangerous behavior when we learn of it. Shockingly, Hope Medical Group is refusing to unseal this evidence and permit us to carry out our legal duties.”
Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, told LifeNews he is upset the abortion facility is hiding behind the court system.
“It is appalling that this Shreveport abortion business can hide their potentially illegal activity behind federal judges. For years, abortion businesses across Louisiana have been found to be in violation of state law, placing the health and safey of women in jeopardy. It is no surprise that the Attorney General’s office has uncovered even more dangerous activity. We ask the 5th Circuit to unseal these records so proper law enforcement can proceed in Louisiana,” Clapper said.
Hope Medical Group in Shreveport has a history of failing to meet basic health and safety standards. In 2010, state health department officials said they found “significant health and safety risks to clients” and recommended that its license be revoked; but a judge blocked the state from closing the facility. Hope Medical Group aborts unborn babies up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.
The Louisiana law, which passed in 2014, requires doctors who do abortions to have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergency situations. Pro-life Democrat state Rep. Katrina Jackson wrote the legislation.
The law was supposed to take effect earlier this year and could have closed abortion facilities that could not protect women’s health. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the high court’s pro-abortion minority to prohibit the state from implementing the law, over the dissent of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Oddly, Roberts joined the pro-life side when the Supreme Court ruled on a similar Texas law.
The law could have closed shoddy abortion facilities that are not prepared to help patients suffering from emergency complications. There are three abortion facilities in Louisiana: Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.