Investigative

Abortion workers: We easily avoided parental notification and consent laws

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Pro-life activists frequently try to pass parental notification and consent laws protecting young pregnant women from the abortion industry. A teenage girl who goes to Planned Parenthood or another abortion facility may not have the maturity to resist the pressure and “sales pitch” of trained abortion workers, and often, abortion workers lie to or pressure teens.

Carolyn Kasdorf, a pregnant teenager, went to Planned Parenthood, unsure about whether to get an abortion. While there, she asked the abortion “counselor,” “Is it a baby?” Years later, Kasdorf recalls the abortion worker’s answer: “No, it’s not a baby,” she was told. “It’s just cartilage like your ear. It’s a blob of tissue.”

Kasdorf went through with the abortion and later deeply regretted it. If she had been told about fetal development, she would have known she was being lied to:

Former Planned Parenthood worker Lavonne Wilenken explained how workers at her abortion facility convinced pregnant teens to go through with their abortions:

The counselor would say to the teenager, “Well, where’s the $250,000 that it takes to raise a child in society today?” And “What are your parents going to say when they find out that you’re pregnant?” And “What is your boyfriend doing? Is he going to help you? Where is he?” and “How are you going to finish your education if you have a baby? Don’t you know you can’t go to school if you have a baby?” Things like that, very subtle things that will push the girl over and make her decide.

… First will come those questions. Next will come the very motherly, the very soothing, “But we can help you. We can help you out of your problem. Your parents don’t have to know. We can help you with the money. You don’t have to have any money and we can help you out of your situation because we know that you don’t want to be pregnant. You just want to be not pregnant and we know that you know that you can’t take care of a baby right now. You know that you’re not ready and we want you to do these things when you’re ready.” So they play on the emotions of the young girl who scared, frightened, doesn’t know where to go, but she’s been told this is the place to go to get help.

Because teens are subjected to this type of pressure, laws have been passed requiring parental notification or consent before an abortion, to ensure that the teenagers’ parents can give them proper guidance.

There are many good reasons for these laws. A teenager may not know to tell the abortion facility if she has a medical condition that might make an abortion more dangerous. If the teen develops an infection or post-abortion complication, she may not seek treatment if she is hiding the abortion from her parents. Keeping abortion complications secret can lead to permanent injury or death. And there are many potential complications:

Also, if a teen is suffering emotionally after abortion, her parents wouldn’t know about her abortion. Teen girls are ten times more likely to commit suicide after an abortion, and parents may not know to look for warning signs. These laws are passed for the benefit of teens’ emotional and physical health.

Sadly, abortion facility workers have found ways around such laws. Three former abortion workers have described how they violated or evaded parental consent and notification laws. Margo (last name not given), Annette Lancaster, and Abby Johnson all told their stories in webcasts sponsored by And Then There Were None, an organization founded by Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director. ATTWN encourages abortion providers to leave the abortion industry and provides healing retreats for the workers. If the workers are willing, ATTWN helps them tell their stories. The group’s videos and webcasts reveal abortion industry secrets.

In the most recent webcast, Annette Lancaster, former North Carolina Planned Parenthood director, revealed how children as young as 10 were able to get abortions without their parents’ knowledge:

I’ve seen young girls, as young as 10 years old being able to come in to the clinic without parental consent and have an abortion procedure. All they had to do was say that they feared they were going to get in trouble, or they feared they were going to be abused or put out by their parents when they got back home. So we would recommend that they go and get something called a judicial bypass. So basically they could go to the courthouse and get this statement from the court saying that, my life will be, you know, different, I won’t be able to live at home, my parents will put me out. I fear telling my parents. And they could come in as young as 10 years old and I’ve seen them, and they can get an abortion without their parents even knowing what was going on.

The judicial bypass option, made mandatory by the Supreme Court, is a loophole that allows most teens to get abortions without their parent’s consent. In every state that mandates parental notification, there is a judicial bypass clause.

Abby Johnson explains how judges would rubberstamp teens’ judicial bypass requests for abortions:

The Supreme Court ruled that if you’re going to have parental laws regarding abortion, then you have to have this judicial bypass process…. A girl can say, “Well, I feel scared” or “my parents are going to kick me out of the house” or whatever it may be, and they will… there [are] different places in each state, different judges that basically rubberstamp judicial bypass cases for the abortion industry. And so they take them to these judges, the judges don’t even look it over, they just have it, yup, she can have an abortion. And then the girl has the abortion procedure; her parents never know and they’re never made available.

Margo, who worked at a late-term abortion facility, says:

Where I worked we were a privately owned late term abortion clinic up to 20 weeks, and Michigan did pass a 24 hour consent law, and we did have parental overrides, judicial overrides that the counselors would help the minors obtain. And some of those things were pretty sketchy…. It was more of a goal to keep [parents] out as much as possible, because we did notice that outcomes would change when there was parental involvement. And so there was a whole system in place to help the kids get a judicial bypass, which basically was a rubber stamp, just go before the judge and say, “I’m afraid of what my parents will do to me if they find out that I am pregnant.” And the judge would ask, “Do you feel like you would be in danger?” “Yes.” “Ok.” And it’s just that sort of thing.

This was how abortion workers evaded parental consent laws. They had another way of violating parental notification laws. Abby Johnson explains:

[P]arental notification for abortion is a complete joke by the way, because what we would do is, a girl would come in and she would say, “Well, I need to have an abortion” and we would say, “Okay, well we have to notify your parents.” And she would say, “I can’t, I can’t tell my parents. What do I do?” And so we would literally (this was when phonebooks were still around) we would slide her a phonebook across the counter, and say, “You know what? We don’t actually have to talk to them. We just have to send a letter notifying them, so maybe you can find your parents’ address in here and we can send a note to someone in there – wink, wink.” So there’s no telling how many Walmarts or Targets or whatever, got the notification, the parental notification, in the mail.

Apparently, no one is policing abortion clinics to make sure they are complying with parental notification laws. They were able to set up a fake system which allowed them to break the law with impunity. It’s unknown how many abortion facilities used this trick to avoid parental notification laws, but if Johnson, once a director in touch with a massive network of fellow workers, knew this tactic, it’s likely other abortion workers did too. At the very least, the tactic could be widespread at Planned Parenthood.

Because of a legal loophole — and sometimes by plain, old-fashioned, dishonesty — teenagers are not protected.

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