Planned Parenthood and Mandatory Reporting

When I was trying to find a credible source outlining alleged Planned Parenthood failures-to-report abuse for my Sacred Cow piece, I became disheartened. I am well aware that reporting possible abuse is a complicated tightrope for Planned Parenthood, and I appreciate the organization’s desire to balance patient trust, patient care, and patient protection with the availability of care for future patients.

Only far-right websites (whose credibility is compromised by their fervor and missions) mention when Planned Parenthood is accused of violating mandatory reporting laws. I suspect this is because:

  • Those who support Planned Parenthood’s mission avoid the topic due to legal abortion being a shared Sacred Cow.
  • Those who support Planned Parenthood’s mission know that sexual abuse victims who cannot access safe abortions will be put in additional danger for illegal abortions and carrying-to-term without consent.

Increased fear of discovery could well result in abusers not taking victims to Planned Parenthood if the organization gained a reputation for asking too many probing questions and for reporting abortions for minors as possible abuse cases. This fear of discovery could result in abusers seeking the kinds of dangerous, back-room abortions that resulted in thousands of maternal deaths and the passage of Roe v. Wade. This tightrope (wanting abusers to allow and/or seek medical and abortion care for their victims while wanting to protect victims from further abuse) is difficult, but we must insist that it be done well and according to legal requirements. We cannot sacrifice abuse victims on the altar of abortion availability.

I don’t know the solution.

do know the answer isn’t easy when you believe that access to safe abortions for all economic classes is the lesser of several evils. I also know that I must stand up and speak when my allies do wrong just as I stand up and speak when my opponents do wrong.


Sacred Cows

Our integrity can be judged based on how we hold accountable those who own the same Sacred Cows we do.

It is much too easy–especially if we perceive ourselves to be in a defensive position–to overlook and excuse the harmful or radical beliefs of people who own the same Sacred Cows we do. Whether our Sacred Cows are spanking, traditional gender roles, feminism, Calvinism, creationism, science, abortion availability, or the second amendment, we often do a poor job of requiring our Sacred Cow allies to have standards that reflect our foundational beliefs.

I should never excuse or ignore harmful positions and behavior because I consider the person an ally in another arena. I see this all the time: both secular and religious people do not speak out against behavior in an ally that would spur lengthy and forceful criticism of an opponent. This double standard damages our credibility.

We should condemn those who do not protect the weak, even if we agree with their commitment to male headship.

We should object when unkindness and personal attacks are made, even if we disagree with the person being attacked.

We should stop supporting Christian leaders who are abusive, manipulative, dishonest, and vindictive; even if the leader is part of a church movement that has given us back our faltering faith.

We should call out people who peddle hate, even if we like that they support the second amendment.

We should never support a candidate whose behavior and language indicate hatred of minority groups, even if we like his blunt “honesty.”

We should speak out when organizations we support do wrong. (See my next post.)

Someone holding reverence for the same Sacred Cows I hold should never get a pass for actions that are harmful.