Joseph Backholm, executive director of Family Policy Institute of Washington

Family Policy Institute of Washington is so eager to get a parental notification law passed in Washington state that its executive director, Joseph Backholm, is apparently willing to misrepresent court-documented facts.

Parental notification laws require that minors notify and/or get consent from one or both parents before getting an abortion.  Washington is one of only twelve states without a parental notification law.

In a blog post erroneously titled “WA Law Helps Conceal Rape of 12-Year Old”, Mr. Backholm wrote last week that:

In a story making news this week, last August a twelve-year old girl Washington girl was raped and impregnated by a thirty-one year-old man who took her to a Washington State Planned Parenthood and forced her to have an abortion.  According to reports, she told Planned Parenthood that the father was a fourteen-year old boy in an effort to protect the identity of her rapist; presumably at the recommendation of her rapist.

It wasn’t until six-weeks later that she told her parents what really happened, which led to an eventual guilty plea and prison sentence for the offender.

It is remarkable that Planned Parenthood is willing to turn a blind eye.  It is not intuitive to simply give a 12-year old an abortion and send her on her merry way by ignoring red flags the size of football fields.

Despite the obvious opportunities to intervene in situations like these, our laws and abortion clinics are aiding and abetting the victimization of girls…in the name of women’s rights no less.

Though the first paragraph is correct, Mr. Backholm, an attorney, goes on to ignore or misrepresent the facts available to him not only in the articles he linked to, but in court records.

Here are some key facts that Mr. Backholm ignored or misrepresented:

  • The rapist was the victim’s step-father.
  • The rapist step-father brought the victim to the clinic to have an abortion.
  • The victim didn’t “[tell] her parents what really happened” six weeks later, she told a detective who interviewed the her because Planned Parenthood alerted Child Protective Services that she had reportedly been impregnated by someone over 24 moths her age, a crime in Washington state.
  • Far from Planned Parenthood turning a “blind eye”, sending the victim on “her merry way” and “ignoring red flags the size of football fields”, Planned Parenthood followed the law and reported the possible rape of the child.
  • Since the rapist was the victim’s step-father, and since the victim’s mother refused to cooperate with the prosecution of the rapist, it is dubious at best that a parental notification law would have prevented the abortion.  In light of the facts, Mr. Backholm’s assertion that “our laws and abortion clinics are aiding and abetting the victimization of girls” is perplexing.  It was state law and the actions of Planned Parenthood staff that rescued the victim from a rapist father and rapist-shielding mother.

The facts in this case, where one parent is a rapist and the other parent sides with him, provide an excellent illustration of why parental notification laws are so dangerous to children and young women:  too often, the rapist is a close family member.

The victim was fortunate that Planned Parenthood conscientiously followed state law and reported the case to Child Protective Services.  Otherwise, she may still be under the control of her rapist step-father and her chillingly uncaring mother.

Family Policy Institute of Washington is affiliated with Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Alliance Defense Fund.

H/T FPIW blog commenter Carolyn.