Local faith-based group using new law to demand Planned Parenthood investigation

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – A faith-based non-profit organization is demanding the immediate investigation of a Tempe Planned Parenthood under a new law that took effect Thursday.

Carrying signs reading “Equal Accountability for Planned Parenthood” and “Babies Are Murdered Here.com,” members of Alliance Defending Freedom gathered on the corner of Apache Boulevard and Rural Road.

“We are here, first of all, to celebrate the enactment of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a piece of common-sense legislation that protects Arizona women and children,” Natalie Decker, legal counsel to ADF told 3TV’s Jill Galus. “We also are calling for an immediate investigation into this Planned Parenthood facility in particular.”

The ADF demand stems from its belief that the clinic failed to report the alleged rape of a teenager by Tyler Kost, a Pinal County high school student. Arizona law requires that such reports be made to law enforcement within 24 hours. At this point, no wrongdoing on the part of the clinic has been proved.

Planned Parenthood Arizona said in early May, after the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kost and the allegations against the Tempe clinic came to light, that it strives to comply with the state law requiring reports on sexual assaults and that it is trying to get more information on what happened at the clinic. It is alleged that a counselor coded the girl’s sexual activity as consensual specifically to avoid having to report an assault.

The organization released a formal statement in June.

“We take the allegations that arose in a probable cause statement from Pinal County Sheriff’s Office very seriously and will fully cooperate with any agency on an investigation,” the statement read. “Patient health and safety is our top priority, and Planned Parenthood Arizona takes its role as a mandatory reporter of criminal activity very seriously, including screening for potential abuse, charting answers, and responding to indications of criminal behavior. We follow all laws and issue appropriate reports to authorities. We have a zero tolerance policy for staff who fail to follow this policy.”

After the girl’s abortion procedure at the Tempe clinic, Kost, 18, allegedly assaulted at least three others girls. Kost was indicted in May, charged with sexually assaulting about a dozen girls over the course of nearly five years.

ADF believes he might have been arrested earlier, and some of his alleged victims spared.

“We want to know if they, in fact, failed to report a sex assault, which led to the sex assault of at least three or four other girls,” Decker said. “If they’re not following the law one time, usually it happens a lot more than just one time. … How many other young girls have been victimized?”

Under the Women’s Health Protection Act, county and state health officials can inspect clinics that perform abortions with no notice and no warrant.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed the Women’s Health Protection Act (HB 2284) into law in April. It requires that clinics where abortions are performed be held to the same safety and inspection standards as other health care facilities. Until now, warrants were required for snap inspections of abortion clinics.

HB 2284 also makes it a misdemeanor crime to help a minor get an abortion without a parent’s consent.

ADF describes itself as "a servant ministry building an alliance to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family."

The Scottsdale-based organization has, since its inception, had Planned Parenthood in its sights and makes no secret of its mission to defund the organization. Members regularly demonstrate outside Valley clinics, including the one in Tempe.

"Alliance Defending Freedom is on the front lines leading efforts to expose Planned Parenthood – America’s largest abortion provider – which is more concerned with its bottom line than the health of women," reads the ADF website.

For its part, Planned Parenthood always has maintained that it has nothing to hide.
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