Sunday, June 05, 2005

Just saying so doesn't make it so: Intellectual honesty

Christina doesn't quite get it. I'll be nice, help her out and suggest (again) she taking a reading comprehension course and learn to delineate her arguments more clearly and accurately.

I broke down and commented on "The Real Choice" that after leaving the "fine. Ol' Cranky, it was other "services" rather than abortion that they performed." comment on my blog , she wasn't exactly being intellectually honest in not updating her own post that continued to perpetuate less than accurate statements:
"Because they have clear and convincing evidence crimes were committed against these children, in that they billed for abortions for them, and then they failed to report the crimes. "
It's also inaccurate to say I don't "grasp" why Kansas AG Steve Carter is investigating PP, but she and I are of differing opinions as to motive to I'll let that slide. I admit, I posted the comment to see if she is capable of directly addressing and supporting her statements. I had previously asked her to support her allegations as well. She appears capable of parroting and spouting the conclusions of others with which she agrees, but not much else.
"PP does abortions on underage girls without reporting possible sexual abuse. That's well documented."
First and foremost, my series of posts and comments were specific to the investigations in Indiana (the one cited by American Princess) and Kansas. Dunigan, a big fan of the Princess, directed her readers to both Amanda Marcotte (and the commenters at Pandagon who are too "oblivious" for Dunigan to waste her time correcting) and me.

The best I can do is cite the case (a rephrehensible one) in which the healthcare providers at PP facility in Phoenix, AZ failed to report the statutory rape of a 13-year old girl by her 23-year old foster brother. The girl had an ongoing sexual relationship with the adult foster brother which resulted in 2 pregnancies, 6 months aparft, that were terminated. Nobody at this PP facility notified Child Protective Services which makes them complicit in the continued molestation of this girl (even if the girl was a willing participant, there is no state in this country in which this case would not be considered statutory rape).

Life Dynamics, a "pro-life" organization, called 800 PP & NAF facilities in the US posing as a 13 year old girl impregnated during and ongoing sexual relationship with a 22 year old male. According to the organization, the girl reported wanting to terminate the pregnancy so her parents woudln't know about the relationship. Again, while the legal age of consent and reporting requirements differ across the country, this is a case that would be considered statutory rape in all states unless the couple were married (there have been some reports of pregnant teens marrying their older boyfriends, with their parents permission, to avoid statutory rape charges). According to the organization, employees at virtually every facility were willing not only to refrain from reporting what they knew was a reportable crime, but to assist in the concealment of the relationship. As for not reporting, I'm not sure if the employees with whom the girl spoke were providers themselves of admin staff (the legal requirements are for providers) and the girl did not, to my knowledge, present for examination which would be the trigger for the reporting mechanism (otherwise, anyone could call a provider making slanderous claims that could leave another person a target of an investigation without any legitimate reason for an investigation). The assertion that the clinic workers on the other end of the phone were willing to provide information to assist a girl in concealing a legally (and morally, in my opinion) inappropriate relationship is disturbing to say the least. If the allegations are true, it's a sign that health-care providers and facilities (probably all of them) need to conduct extensive training on signs to evaluate for inappropriate sexual relationships as well as reporting requirements. The states should also conduct statutory awareness campaigns (California did one some years ago) so people know what the age of consent is in their state. If you do a search of the laws, you'll see that age of consent is not the only factor in determination of whether the sexual activity is considered criminal and reportable. In most states, the ages of both participants as well as the age difference is a factor of consideration in voluntary sexual activity; in some states, when there is a disparity of the maturational age of the participants (even though they are the same chronological age) there is a requirement to report as well. [here is a link to CA reporting guidelines]

As reprehensible an example as the Arizona case is, one cannot accurately state/imply that PP (or any provider who performs abortions) systematically fails to comply with reporting laws. The tapes of the LD sting operation are disturbing but, again, not evidence that these facilities routinely perform abortions and then fail to report known or suspected sexual molestation (I actually be quite curious to know what results would have been for a similar operation in which a broad range of healthcare providers were presented with a similar case; I don't think the results would be exactky the same, but wonder if we have a societal problem in which adults give up on trying to "talk sense" into sexually active teens and/or report statutory rape). Additionally, the investigations in Kansas and Indiana do not support Christina's allegations of failure to comply with reporting because even if there are cases in which 11-13 year old girls sought contraception for sexual activity, it's not clear that the relationships they may be having fall under the reporting requirements (and yes, I cringe at the thought of this activity between these kids; I know what it was like when I was that age and can't imagine how much worse it may be now, especially with the increase in precocious puberty).

Unfortunately, there is a potentially chilling effect to the reporting requirements if/when the law mandates reporting of any/all sexual activity (for an adolescent) as sexual abuse and that is the likelihood that these kids won't seek healthcare (or own up to risky behavior when seeing a healthcare provider) which will put those in most need at significantly higher risk. The primary goal to these laws is, and should remain, to protect kids from actual sexual abuse (the inherent coercion at the heart of an intimate relationship between a child and a adult or even a significantly older child makes that an abusive relationship even when the child engages in the relationship voluntarily). The goal of healthcare providers treating sexually active minors should be to act in accordance to what is in the best interest of the patient from a clinical perspective, to educate and encourage safe behavior, to encourage (wherever possible) open lines of communication with parents/guardians and to report known or reasonably suspected cases of inappropriate sexual activities as appropriate.

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