Washington, District of Columbia — After undercover footage emerged in 2011 appearing to show Planned Parenthood officials failing to report suspected sex abuse of minors, the nation’s largest abortion provider pledged to do more to train employees to recognize signs of child abuse and trafficking.
But according to Ramona Treviño, a former Planned Parenthood manager from Texas, this training did not happen. Instead, Treviño said she was taught how to recognize when she was being surreptitiously filmed.
“[The trainer] immediately shot me down and she said, ‘We’re not here to talk about that [identifying sexual abuse victims], Ramona. We’re here to teach you how to identify if you’re being videotaped or recorded or entrapped in any way,’” Treviño said.
Now, Live Action, the investigative group that released the undercover footage in 2011, has a new report alleging that cover up of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking at Planned Parenthood has taken place at locations across the country.
The report, titled “Aiding Abusers: Planned Parenthood’s Cover-Up of Child Sexual Abuse” features nearly two decades-worth of research and contains testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees, court cases where Planned Parenthood was accused of negligence in failing to report suspected abuse, undercover video footage from prior investigations, and statements from women whose abuse was not reported to authorities by Planned Parenthood.
Live Action is calling for a Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood to determine just how widespread this issue may be, as well as the removal of all taxpayer funding for the corporation.
As a Title X funding recipient, Planned Parenthood clinics across the country have a legal obligation to report any suspected child abuse. Planned Parenthood receives $60 million each year in Title X funds, although the organization may lose its eligibility for this money under a proposed Trump administration change if it continues to perform abortions.
“Because the cases in this report span many years, it is unknown whether a particular offending Planned Parenthood center or the Planned Parenthood regional affiliate overseeing it was a Title X grant recipient at the time of the offense,” says the report, noting that the cases cited are only known because someone outside Planned Parenthood spoke out.
“This is another reason an HHS investigation needs to be initiated.”
Numerous Documented Cases
The report cites numerous examples of girls who were under the age of consent and brought to a clinic for an abortion. Girls as young as 12 and 13 received abortions, which were not reported to authorities, Live Action said.
The examples in the report are not localized to any particular region of the country, and some of the cases date back decades.
In 2004, a 16-year-old woman named Denise Fairbanks was brought to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Ohio after she became pregnant following sexual abuse by her father. Despite the fact that Fairbanks told three employees at the Planned Parenthood that she had been forced into sex, this was not reported to authorities, the report said, and she was sent back to her father’s home, where the abuse continued. Her father was later arrested a year and a half later, when her basketball coach uncovered the abuse. She later filed a civil suit in 2007, and settled in 2012.
Similar situations in Washington state, Arizona, California, and Colorado are cited in the report. In the Colorado case, a Planned Parenthood employee said in a deposition that “being 13 and pregnant alone is not a red flag” of sexual abuse. The age of consent in Colorado is 17.
In 2010, a 13-year-old California girl underwent an abortion from Planned Parenthood after she became pregnant when her father, a man named Edgar Ramirez, repeatedly raped her. She told the workers at the clinic that she had gotten pregnant from a made-up boyfriend.
The age of consent in California is 18. It is illegal in the state to have sexual contact with a minor, unless a person is married to that minor.
Instead of going to the authorities, the report says, the victim was advised by a clinic employee to abstain from sex for three weeks after her abortion. Her father continued raping her, and she was pregnant again a few months later.
This time, according to the report, Planned Parenthood gave her an abortion as well as an IUD to prevent any additional pregnancies. Ramirez was eventually arrested after one of his other daughters reported her abuse to the police.
Failed Mandatory Reporting
Testimony from former employees, including clinic managers, suggested an indifference to the legal requirement that the clinics report sexual abuse to authorities.
“We were all required to be mandatory reporters, but, if we saw a case – questionable abuse or even for sure, I mean, this kid is being abused – we really were discouraged from calling it in, just because they didn’t want to have the trouble – the angry parent, the angry boyfriend, whatever it was,” said Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood manager from Storm Lake, Iowa. “So, more than once I was told, ‘No, that is not reportable. You don’t need to call it in.’”
Monica Cline, a former health educator who helped train employees at Planned Parenthood in the southwest, said that she believes the organization did not actually care about rescuing girls who were trafficked.
Cline said the employees had adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy where they would refrain from asking about the age of a young girl’s sexual partner so that they would not have to report it.
“I went back to my office and I told my supervisor, listen, I’m trying to teach them about key concepts on Title X; they’re admitting that they’re not going to report cases of statutory rape,” said Cline.
A 2014 study by Loyola University Chicago’s Beazley Institute for Health and Law Policy found that aside from emergency rooms, Planned Parenthood locations were the most-visited facilities by trafficking victims. One trafficking victim interviewed for that report said that Planned Parenthood “didn’t ask any questions” that would have revealed the abuse.
A video released with the report makes up the first part of a docuseries on the same subject. Additional videos in the docuseries will be released in the coming weeks.