supporters believe that it might be the most aggressive of any
such law in the nation. But my guess is that it would eventually
be found unconstitutional because of the prevailing U.S. Supreme
Court view that guards at great length women's reproductive decisions.
An attempt to pass a similar law last year in California went
nowhere, and rare is the legislature that would undertake such
a direct assault on abortion records.
the kind of law that captures the imaginations and support of
pro-life groups, such as the ones that gathered last weekend at
the SpeakOut Illinois conference in Oakbrook Terrace. Some want
more legal protections, such as the Kansas law, for girls who
turn up pregnant and have abortions. They ask: What better way
for a child predator to get away clean than to destroy the physical
evidence of his attack in the fetus' DNA?
released by the Illinois Department of Public Health fuel that
concern in Illinois. In 2004, the latest data available, more
than 3,100 girls age 17 and younger had abortions. Of them, 290
were 14 or younger. In Illinois, a pregnant girl that young should
be a warning sign of possible sexual predation, or something.
dealing with Illinois sexual offenses no longer speak of rape,
so we should avoid that emotionally loaded word. But the law,
while complicated as it pertains to minors, outlines several instances
where rape in the old-fashioned meaning can be suspected.
sexual assault is when someone has sexual penetration with a person
under the age of 18 who is a family member, or sex with a person
at least 13 but under 18, when the perpetrator is 17 or older
and in a position of trust.
criminal sexual assault is a Class X felony when the perpetrator
uses force or threatens to commit an act of penetration with a
criminal sexual assault is committed when a child is under 13
and the perpetrator is 17 or older.
The law covers
crimes committed by younger perpetrators under the categories
of criminal sexual abuse and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Pro-life groups believe it is fair to assume that some fraction
of the 3,100-plus abortions involving minors resulted from one
of these criminal acts.
reason to suspect that some of these are not being properly reported:
Undercover investigations were conducted in several states, including
Illinois, in which a caller posing as a 13- or 14-year-old pregnant
girl was assured by abortion clinics that no one would be told
about her pregnancy or abortion. The investigation, conducted
by Texas-based Life Dynamics, a pro-life group, recorded these
conversations, in which the caller said she was impregnated by
her 22-year-old boyfriend. Although many clinics acknowledged
that reporting the crime to authorities was legally required,
the overwhelming majority agreed to conceal it.
It is impossible
to say if all abortion clinics in Illinois are conforming to the
mandatory reporting law requiring that child-welfare authorities
be informed of suspicions of sexual abuse and assault. It'll take
more resources than are available to me: subpoena power, legal
muscle, a newspaper investigative team, legislative hearings,
ago, Jill Stanek of the Committee to Protect Illinois Children
requested that Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan find out. The
office's two-sentence letter of reply said the responsibility
for such investigations lies with the various state's attorneys.
Stanek said she tried to get some of them interested, but without
better not to get the authorities involved, Abigail English, director
of the Center for Adolescent Health and the Law, said in a 2004
article in the Guttmacher Report. Better to recast the laws to
target "truly exploitive or abusive" behaviors. And
better to end the mandatory reporting requirement to allow the
"health-care provider discretion in determining whether abuse
has occurred," she said.
We no longer
speak of statutory rape. Instead, pro-choice literature speaks
about minors having "unwanted" and "non-voluntary"
sex, as if it weren't so bad. I don't know what happened to "No
means no!" but my druthers are that the final determination
of whether a child is a victim of a sexual crime should be in
the hands of law enforcement.