Yesterday afternoon, The Family Foundation of Virginia filed suit with the Richmond Circuit Court against Governor Terry McAuliffe's Department of Health and its interim State Health Commissioner, Dr. Marissa Levine, for their failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documentation verifying that the Department of Health fulfilled its legal obligation to report a possible incident of child sexual abuse. The case surrounds a possible violation of the Commonwealth's mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse law by the Roanoke Medical Center for Women. The FOIA request to the Department of Health to determine follow up actions taken by state officials has not been answered in the time required by state law. The Family Foundation will not sit silently in the face of potential child sexual abuse just because it involves the $1 billion abortion industry and the McAuliffe administration. Therefore, we have pursued this matter in court to require the Department of Health to turn over the related documents proving whether or not they have responded to the potential sexual abuse of a 14-year-old child.
TFF President Victoria Cobb enters the John Marshall Courts Building in Downtown Richmond yesterday to file a petition seeking documents from the Department of Health.
The situation began when we received state inspection records through FOIA and learned that the Roanoke Medical Center for Women had performed abortions on at least three minors without evidence of parental consent. One of the children was 14 years old at the time of the procedure. According to Virginia Code §18.2-63, carnal knowledge of a 14-year-old child is statutorily either a felony or a Class 4 misdemeanor (depending on consent and age of the offender). And sexual acts on a child is part of the definition of child abuse or neglect that must be reported by mandatory reporters to the police or Department of Social Services per Virginia Code § 63.2-100.
On January 31, 2014, The Family Foundation sent a FOIA request to the Department of Health to see if they reported this to the proper authorities as a case of potential child abuse or neglect among other things (the State Health Commissioner as a licensed doctor is a mandatory reporter as are all licensed doctors per Virginia Code § 63.2-1509). The department responded on February 18, 2014 and said it had no responsive documents. So we waited 10 working days and sent a second FOIA request on March 4, 2013 that asked if the Department of Health had reported this to the authorities since we had notified them of the potential child abuse or neglect. We have yet to hear back and it is 5 days past the required deadline for a response.
The fact is, until we receive evidence to the contrary, not receiving a response by the required deadline means that the McAuliffe Administration's Department of Health is in violation of FOIA law and potentially is still in violation of mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse. Upon completion of the abortion center inspection report, Department of Health officials should have immediately recognized the possible case of abuse and reported it. Even if they somehow missed it, after the situation was brought to its attention by The Family Foundation, the Department of Health has provided no documentation that it took legally required action and now is also stonewalling transparency requests. A request to the Department of Health for documentation revealed that there's no record of any officials investigating whether or not the Roanoke Medical Center fulfilled state law by reporting at least one possible case of child sexual abuse.
We have parental consent and mandatory reporting laws to protect children from sexual abuse. It's not up to the abortion center doctor or staff to make a determination of whether or not abuse took place. That's up to law enforcement. This case involves a girl 14 years of age. So regardless of the circumstances, state law was violated and law enforcement officials should have been notified. If there is a reasonable explanation for not fulfilling state laws regarding mandatory reporting of child abuse, the citizens of Virginia deserve to know what that reason is. If the law was followed, why not say so?
Regardless, this situation is further evidence that the abortion industry is completely incapable of policing itself and needs oversight by non-politicized government health officials. The abortion provider should have already faced fines for not fulfilling state law regarding parental consent, which hasn't happened. Is the abortion industry so protected by the state that it is allowed to ignore mandatory reporting laws on child sexual abuse, too? The Board of Health members have been made aware of this situation and we look forward to hearing a response from them and the Department of Health representatives at today's Board of Health meeting in Richmond.
The center at the middle of this scandal, the Roanoke Medical Center for Women, is owed by W.K.G. And J., Incorporated 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 the 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. The secretary of W.K.G. and J., Incorporated is Marianne Fitzhugh.