The Family Foundation released the following press release earlier this afternoon:
Department of Health: No Record of Reporting Possible Abuse
- State officials respond to FOIA request after suit filed -
RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Health yesterday responded to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documentation regarding whether the Department of Health fulfilled its legal obligation to report a possible incident of child sexual abuse. On Wednesday, The Family Foundation filed a petition with the Richmond Circuit Court against the Virginia Department of Health for its failure to respond.
In its response, the Department said, "VDH does not have any documents that are responsive to your request."
"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," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia. "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."
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.
The Code of Virginia (§18.2-63) clearly establishes that it is a crime for any person to:
carnally know, without the use of force, a child thirteen years of age or older but under fifteen years of age. ...
Whether the crime is punishable as a felony or Class 4 misdemeanor depends on consent and the age of the offender. Regardless, the Department's inspection report clearly demonstrates that §18.2-63 was violated based on the fact that a 14-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. ...
Virginia Code § 63.2-100 defines "abused or neglected child." Paragraph 1 of the definition is related to actual or risked physical or mental injury to the child and/or paragraph 4 of the definition is related to sexual acts upon the child, both of which raise reasonable suspicion that they may meet the definition for an abused or neglected child. This is particularly true for the 14-year-old patient at the Roanoke Medical Center for Women who by statutory definition was the victim of a crime. And clearly, there is reason to suspect that the three children who obtained abortions from the Roanoke Medical Center for Women without parental consent meet the definition of an abused or neglected child.
Added 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."
The Roanoke Center is owned by W.K.G. and J., Incorporated (the secretary is Marianne Fitzhugh), which also owns the Richmond Medical Center for Women, the Charlottesville Medical Center for Women, and the Peninsula Medical Center for Women. According to 2012 data, these centers performed 11 percent of the abortions in Virginia that year, making them the third largest abortion provider in Virginia after Planned Parenthood and centers owned by infamous Dr. Steven Brigham.
Dr. William Fitzhugh is the only licensed doctor at the Roanoke facility that we can identify on the Board of Medicine website.