The waiting is over. The Department of Health finally replied, well after the legal deadline and after a petition filed in Richmond Circuit Court, to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Family Foundation of Virginia. The request asked for documents pertaining to the department's response to an abortion provided to a minor at a Roanoke abortion center. The answer was, basically, "don't have any." According to the department's own inspection reports, abortions were performed on two 14-year-old girls, raising serious questions about whether or not the abortion center followed state laws on possible violations, including obtaining parental consent and possibly some type of sexual abuse. But once it made those discoveries, the Department of Health was then responsible for reporting the incidents to the proper authorities. Based on its admission of a lack of documentation, it apparently did not do so, at least not in a formal written notification.
The impetus for the sudden reply most likely was The Family Foundation's testimony at yesterday's regularly scheduled Board of Health meeting that outlined the department's inaction and the petition to the Circuit Court. This story may only be just beginning. After three days of The Family Foundation putting out this information, two national web sites picked up on it: Cortney O'Brien's "Tip Sheet" at TownHall.com and this from LifeNews.com.
Earlier today, TFF Put out a news release that you can see here. It contains the exact response from the Department of Health, which was:
VDH does not have any documents that are responsive to your request.
For that, it could've saved everyone a lot of time and trouble and replied quicker, and moved on to the next pressing problem: What to do about potential violations at the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, the Department of Health, and the crimes against minors. TFF President Victoria Cobb said in the release:
We are very concerned that without a proper investigation by law enforcement someone could get away with sexual abuse or assault on a 14 year old child where an abortion was performed with no parental consent in an area of Virginia where sex trafficking is a problem. There are three instances in the inspection reports of the Roanoke Medical Center for Women where it failed to get proper parental consent in consecutive months involving underage minors. We know that the I-81 corridor is used for human trafficking, so anyone who cares about kids should want to make sure that these girls weren’t victims. It is incredibly disturbing that, to this point, neither the abortion center nor the Department of Health has followed the law.
Also from the release:
In its February 25, 2013 inspection report, the Department of Health revealed instances where underage girls received abortions without evidence of parental consent, including two 14-year-old girls in October and December 2012. ...
(T)he Department’s inspection report clearly demonstrates that §18.2-63 was violated based on the fact that a fourteen-year-old child obtained an abortion from Roanoke Medical Center for Women. Such possible criminal activity should be reported to the local police department and Commonwealth’s Attorney for investigation to ensure that the child wasn’t a victim of sex abuse, assault, neglect, or sex trafficking. ...
The Virginia Code (§ 63.2-1509) also establishes mandatory reporters for child abuse and neglect. Any person licensed to practice medicine in the Commonwealth "shall report the matter immediately to the local department of (Social Services) when the physician ha(s) reason to suspect that child is an abused or neglected child. ..."
If there's one issue those on which the left and right have worked well together on in recent years in the General Assembly, it is sex trafficking. Now, with the situation in Roanoke possibly falling in that category, or at least some type of abuse to minors, one might think the Department of Health might want to act to prove Virginia's laws aren't for show. More from Cobb:
Unfortunately, in an age of human trafficking, the medical personnel at an abortion center, or any medical facility, can't just assume that a girl isn't a victim of sexual abuse. We have laws requiring that medical personnel report these cases to law enforcement because we want to protect our kids. When our parental consent law was first passed it was to ensure parental involvement in one of the most traumatic decisions a young girl can make, but with the proliferation of human sex trafficking, it is now a way we can ensure that these young girls are not victims.
The abortion industry isn’t exempt from mandatory reporting laws. They claim to be health care operations, so if they are, they have the same obligations and responsibilities as other health care organizations. They shouldn’t be exempt because abortion is controversial.