Breaking News: Did Abortion Center Violate Mandatory Reporting Law? TFF Files Petition With Circuit Court For Failure Of State Officials To Respond To FOIA RequestMar 19, 2014
The Family Foundation of Virginia earlier today released the following to the media regarding the possible violation of state law by a Roanoke abortion center and the Department of Health. The Family Foundation has filed a petition in Richmond Circuit Court to receive documents from the Department of Health that it has thus far refused to turn over after a FOIA request.
Did Abortion Center Violate Mandatory Reporting Law?
- State officials haven’t responded to FOIA request -
RICHMOND – The Family Foundation of Virginia today filed a petition with the Richmond Circuit Court against the Virginia Department of Health for its 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.
Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb files petition for Department of Health documents at Richmond Circuit Court.
On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, The Family Foundation, for the second time, asked the Department of Health for any correspondence it has regarding whether it had notified law enforcement about the possibility that an incident of child sexual abuse had taken place and had also gone unreported by the Roanoke Medical Center for Women.
"Until evidence to the contrary is presented by the Department of Health, one can only conclude that the abortion center not only violated the state's parental consent law, which is documented, but additionally that the Department of Health failed to fulfill its responsibility to report possible child sexual abuse," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. "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," added Cobb. "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 fourteen years of age. So, regardless of the circumstances, state law was violated and law enforcement officials should have been notified."
In its February 25, 2013 inspection report, the Department of Health revealed instances where underage girls received abortions without evidence of parental consent, including a fourteen-year-old girl:
On 12/18/12 at approximately 9:00 a.m. during a review of clinical records, the survey team discovered 3 (three) of 4 (four) patients who received a procedure to terminate pregnancy were minors and no evidence of parental consent was present in the clinical record. Patient #2 had a procedure to terminate pregnancy in November 2012, and was 16 (sixteen) years of age at the time of the procedure. There was no documentation/evidence in the clinical record of any written informed consent obtained from the parent/guardian of Patient #2 for the procedure. On 12/18/12 at 9:30 a.m., Staff #2 stated, "I don’t know why this one wasn’t done. I don’t know how it slipped through the cracks. ..." Patient #4 had a procedure to terminate pregnancy in December 2012, and was 14 (fourteen) years old at the time of the procedure. There was a document in the clinical record, "Certificate of Acknowledgement — Consent Letter" which had been signed but was not notarized by the facility proving/validating the identity or relationship of the signee as the parent/guardian of Patient #4.
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 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. ...
Virginia Code § 63.2-100 defines "abused or neglected child." Paragraph one of the definition is related to actual or risked physical or mental injury to the child and/or paragraph four 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.
Stunned at the abortion center's flagrant violations of Virginia law, The Family Foundation submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the Virginia Department of Health on January 31, 2014 seeking documents demonstrating that the department reported these situations, including the possible crime against a 14-year-old child, to law enforcement or the local Department of Social Services. The Interim State Health Commissioner is a licensed physician and subject to the mandatory reporting requirements just as medical staff at the abortion center. The Health Department's response stated that it did "not have any documents that are responsive."
Fourteen days later, we submitted another Freedom of Information Act request to see if our first request had persuaded the Health Department into complying with Virginia law by reporting this crime to law enforcement or the Department of Social Services. Instead of a response, The Family Foundation was greeted with silence. This is surprising because the Health Department is well aware of the statutory requirement to provide within five working days either a response to the Freedom of Information Act request or provide the required notice that they will be invoking a seven working day extension. Today is the 10th working day since the Health Department received our request and we have yet to receive either a response or the required notice that they will be invoking the extension.
"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 is. If the law was followed, why not say so?" asked Cobb.
"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. They 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, too? The Board of Health members have been made aware of this situation and we look forward to hearing a response from them and from Department of Health representatives at tomorrow’s Board of Health meeting."
The Roanoke abortion 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 it 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.
Copies of the FOIA requests and court petition are available upon request.