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Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler

Representing the 4th District of Missouri
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Hartzler, 55 Members Ask HHS to Investigate Planned Parenthood Cover-Up of Child Sex Abuse

June 8, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) and fifty-five other members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) yesterday to investigate Planned Parenthood after a report came out last week chronicling a longstanding pattern of the organization’s failure to report the sexual abuse of minors.

 

“It is unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would perform an abortion on a young girl with no questions asked,” Congresswoman Hartzler said. “The thought makes me shudder. It is alarming that an organization with a signature pattern of failure to report child sexual abuse continues to receive taxpayer money. We need to investigate how widespread Planned Parenthood’s complicity truly is; this abuse needs to stop.”

 

Live Action released a report and documentary series last week that included accounts from victims who had been to Planned Parenthood, former Planned Parenthood employee testimonies, state health department reports and undercover footage. The report details the long history the organization has of looking the other way when girls who are likely victims of sex abuse, as young as 12 and 13, are brought in for an abortion.

 

Live Action President and Founder Lila Rose stated, “When a child is the victim of sexual abuse by a family member or the victim of a pimp who has forced her into a life of sex-slavery, she deserves to be protected, not to be victimized again by an abortion facility that willingly turns a blind eye to her torture. We are grateful that so many members of Congress are pushing to initiate an investigation into Planned Parenthood and help put an end to this horrific cycle of abuse.

 

“The fact that Planned Parenthood has for decades participated in the ongoing abuse of children proves that its priority is selling abortions, not caring for the most vulnerable of girls. Planned Parenthood’s culture of cover-up must end, the cycle of abuse of innocent children must end, and Planned Parenthood’s half a billion dollars in annual federal funding must end. Taxpayers cannot be forced to subsidize these abuses of children.”

 

See the full letter below (or click here) that Congresswoman Hartzler and her colleagues sent to HHS yesterday.

 

June 7, 2018

 

Alex M. Azar II

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar,

 

We are writing to express deep concern with a recent report compiling several court cases, state health department reports, and testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees that highlight multiple instances where Planned Parenthood facilities across the country have repeatedly and deliberately failed to report the suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care. As you know, Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of Title X family planning funds, receiving about $60 million annually. In light of this report and the influx of federal resources to this organization, we respectfully request that you investigate Planned Parenthood, as well as other current Title X recipients to determine how widespread the failure of abuse reporting is.

 

As you know, since 1999, federal law has annually included the expectation that all recipients of federal Title X family planning funds follow all state laws requiring the reporting of suspected child sexual abuse, rape, and incest:

 

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no provider of services under Title X of the Public Health Service Act shall be exempt from any State law requiring notification or the reporting of child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, or incest.”

 

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Population Affairs reminds Title X recipients of the need to follow state reporting requirements annually in its grant announcements. The requirement is also reiterated in the latest Office of Population Affairs Title X manual from April 2014.

 

We know that reporting cases of abuse or suspected abuse is of increasing concern to your agency. In HHS’ recently published proposed rule governing the Title X family planning program, a new provision was incorporated to “address explicitly the requirement for Title X projects to comply with all State and local laws regarding the notification or reporting of crimes involving sexual exploitation, child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking.” This new provision interprets federal appropriations law so as to require Title X recipients to report on intimate partner violence as well as instances of human trafficking for all ages. This is in addition to reporting on sexual abuse cases involving minors.

 

Despite the increased attention to combatting sexual abuse, the cases detailed in the enclosed report demonstrate that Planned Parenthood has continuously embraced a culture of turning a blind eye to suspected abuse. Rather than reporting suspicious incidents to authorities as state law often requires, Planned Parenthood has chosen repeatedly to perform abortions on children as young as 12 and 13 years old and then return these young clients to their abusers. The following cases document how Planned Parenthood’s failure to report has allowed abusers to get away with years of additional, ongoing abuse of their victims.

 

  • Washington, 2014: George Savanah had repeatedly raped his daughter and impregnated her when she was 14, 16, and 17 years old. Each time he got her pregnant, he took her to Planned Parenthood and forced her to get an abortion. Planned Parenthood repeatedly failed to report the suspicious incidents to authorities, even though the victim was a minor.
  • Colorado, 2012: Timothy David Smith had been sexually abusing his stepdaughter for seven years. When she became pregnant at 13, he took her to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood performed an abortion without notifying the child’s parents and without reporting the suspected abuse as required by Colorado law. Planned Parenthood then sent the child back home with Smith, where he continued to rape and abuse her. 
  • Ohio, 2004: Denise Fairbanks had been sexually abused by her father since she was 13. When she became pregnant at age 16, he took her to Planned Parenthood and forced her to have an abortion. Denise told the staff that she was being forced to have sex, but they ignored her pleas and refused to report the incident to authorities. After the abortion, Denise was sent back home with her father, where he continued to abuse her.

 

Despite the evidence that reporting problems seems to be a pervasive part of the organization’s culture, Planned Parenthood facilities continue to receive Title X funding.

 

The report’s findings suggest that abusers feel comfortable taking their victims to Planned Parenthood. We are therefore requesting an investigation into Title X recipients, particularly Planned Parenthood, to determine how widespread this failure is and if there are other instances where Planned Parenthood failed in its duty to report suspected child abuse to local authorities and to HHS.

 

We specifically request the following information from HHS:

 

  • All records (including from regional offices) regarding any and all incidents of Planned Parenthood Title X recipients’ failure to report suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care;
  • A record of the steps taken to bring the recipient into compliance each time it was discovered that a Planned Parenthood Title X recipient failed to report suspected abuse, and documentation of the consequences for each recipient that refused to come into compliance; and
  • Data from Planned Parenthood Title X facilities for the past 10 years showing in the aggregate how many children below their particular states’ age of consent received services that would indicate they were sexually active (such as abortions and tests or treatments for sexually transmitted infections), as well as the number of reports of suspected child sexual abuse Planned Parenthood made to law enforcement during that same period.

 

Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter and we look forward to receiving your response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rep. Vicky Hartzler

Sen. Joni K. Ernst

Rep. Christopher H. Smith

Rep. Mark Walker

Rep. Diane Black

Rep. Bill Flores

Rep. Roger Williams

Rep. Ted Budd

Rep. Walter B. Jones

Rep. Randy Weber

Rep. Pete Olson

Rep. Mike Kelly

Rep. Steve King

Rep. Ralph Norman

Rep. Steve Pearce

Rep. Ann Wagner

Rep. Jody B. Hice

Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D.

Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D.

Rep. Robert Aderholt

Rep. H. Morgan Griffith

Rep. Keith Rothfus

Rep. Francis Rooney

Rep. Bob Gibbs

Rep. David Rouzer

Rep. Andy Harris, M.D.

Rep. Jim Banks

Rep. Tom Cole

Rep. Richard Hudson

Rep. Barry Loudermilk

Rep. Glenn Grothman

Rep. Brian Babin, D.D.S.

Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis

Rep. Tim Walberg

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer

Rep. Jackie Walorski

Rep. Ron Estes

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D.

Rep. Claudia Tenney

Rep. Steve Chabot

Rep. Steve Russell

Rep. Rick Crawford

Rep. Lou Barletta

Rep. Ken Buck

Rep. Ted S. Yoho, DVM

Rep. John Rutherford

Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

Rep. Sean P. Duffy

Rep. Debbie Lesko

Rep. Doug LaMalfa

Rep. Doug Lamborn

Rep. Mike Johnson

Rep. Marsha Blackburn

Rep. Mia Love

Rep. K. Michael Conaway

Sen. James Lankford

 

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Interested members of the media may contact Anna Swick at anna.swick@mail.house.gov