June 03, 2005, 8:03 a.m.
A cautionary tale of abortion-rights extremis,.
Can you say “perverse”? Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kansas is effectively fighting to protect child rapists from potential prosecution in two high-profile legal fights. That an organization devoted to the interests of women finds itself in this position is a cautionary tale of abortion-rights extremism.
In Indiana, the attorney general is seeking the records of girls under the age of 14 who have visited Planned Parenthood clinics. Let that sink in: We’re talking about 12- and 13-year- old girls. It is a crime to have sex with a child under 14 in the state. Under law, individuals with reason to believe a child is a victim of sex abuse are required to report it to the proper authorities. In Kansas, the attorney general is carrying on the same fight (he is also looking for evidence of illegal late-term abortions).
An Indiana judge has just upheld the Indiana attorney general’s request, although the case is under appeal. “The great public interest,” the county superior judge wrote, “in the reporting, investigation and prosecution of child abuse trumps even the patient’s interest in privileged communication with her physician because, in the end, both the patient and the state are benefited by the disclosure.”
The loopiest free-sex advocates might imagine that after sex-ed courses on how to put a condom on a banana, 13-year-old girls blissfully explore their bodies with 13-year-old boys. Put aside that this vision will make most parents gag — it’s not how it works. Teen sex often involves adult men exploiting teen girls. Estimates are that in 60 percent or more of teen births, the father is an adult. A California study found that the fathers in births to junior-high-school mothers were on average nearly 7 years older.
Why would a feminist organization not be eager to cooperate in a fight against the sexual exploitation of young girls? Well, Planned Parenthood represents that wing of the feminist billed as “sex positive.” Although that phrase doesn’t quite capture it. Planned Parenthood is developing the “statutory rape-positive” wing of feminism.
These feminists are unwilling to pass judgment on any sex in any circumstances, don’t care if parents are cut out of the equation entirely, believe the right to an abortion trumps any other consideration, and embrace a notion of privacy so sweeping it includes men who have, under law, raped their young sexual partners. If only Michael Jackson were interested in girls instead of boys, he might, in the right circumstances, have a friend in Planned Parenthood.
Privacy is a mere excuse not to provide the records. It is not at all unusual for criminal prosecutions to involve medical records. And no one is going to make public the names of the girls involved, which are being provided to the authorities, not the news media. “We’ve been doing these investigations since the 1970s, and there’s never been a case where we have not maintained the confidentiality of records,” Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter told a local columnist. In Kansas — where the case is pending before the state supreme court — Attorney General Phill Kline authored the state’s rape shield law when he was in the legislature. It is not the girl in any of these cases who will be in jeopardy, but her adult abuser (if there is one).
This fight is so important because our culture relentlessly sexualizes children. The message, for instance, of Britney Spears’s act before she came of age was “teen girls are hot.” Pop culture won’t change, but the law can at least try to send an opposite signal.
Key Democrats from Hillary Clinton to Howard Dean have of late said their party needs to become more moderate on abortion. They could add substance to the rhetoric by opposing Planned Parenthood’s position in these cases. Of course, that will never happen. The abortion absolutists control the Democratic party, a sad fact for those Americans who have moral qualms about abortion, but a happy one for men who impregnate 13-year-olds.
— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.