TEMPE, Ariz. — Carrying signs saying “We Survived Abortion, It Won’t Survive Us,” and “Equal Accountability,” about 100 pro-life supporters held a peaceful rally outside of a Tempe Planned Parenthood office Thursday morning.
The rally along Apache Boulevard near McClintock Drive was to celebrate the first day of the Women’s Health Inspection Act, which requires abortion clinics be subjected to the same surprise inspections as other health facilities.
“If the Department of Health Services receives a complaint that they believe gives them enough evidence, they will be able to inspect this health facility without giving advance warning, and without getting a search warrant,” said State Rep. Debbie Lesko, who sponsored the bill.
“What this law does is put abortion clinics on the same level playing field as any other health facility in the state, and it protects women’s health,” said Lesko.
The Planned Parenthood clinic where the rally took place has come under fire after a victim of alleged rapist Tyler Kost showed up there to seek treatment. Kost, 18, is accused of stalking, raping and intimidating more than a dozen Poston Butte High School students in San Tan Valley.
A letter to Attorney General Tom Horne from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the teenaged victim went to the clinic and had an abortion there in January. The letter said when the girl and her mom told a counselor that the pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault, the counselor told them that she didn’t want the hassle of reporting the assault to law enforcement. Planned Parenthood is a mandatory reporter.
Babeu’s letter, written in May, called on Horne to conduct a criminal investigation into the matter.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Cynde Cerf sent KTAR a written statement that said the organization has had “no recent contact by either Pinal County law enforcement or the Arizona Department of Health regarding this matter.”
Neither the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office nor ADHS responded to interview requests.
The Director of the Center for Arizona Policy is again asking for a criminal investigation of the clinic. Cathi Herrod said people on both sides of the abortion issue should support their call for an investigation.
“This isn’t a pro-life or pro-abortion issue,” she said. “This is about whether Arizona law will be followed by abortion facilities who are required by law to report the sexual abuse of minor girls. This is coming to the defense of vulnerable young women who are not having their sexual assaults reported, as required by law, by Planned Parenthood.”
Cerf responded to the accusation in her written statement by referring to an earlier statement released in June that read, “Planned Parenthood Arizona rakes its role as a mandatory reporter of criminal activity very seriously.” Cerf said Planned Parenthood would fully cooperate with any agency on an investigation.