Thursday, May 17, 2007

Planned Parenthood's Message About Mandated Reporting

When I read this headline: Planned Parenthood Continues to Harbor Men Who Rape Children from the Christian Newswire I cringed.

As a Christian who is dedicated to fighting rape, these people make me reluctant to reveal that I am a Christian when I talk about the subject of rape. This reaction is because people might assume I hold attitudes which are hostile to rape victims and which keep dangerous victim-blaming attitudes going strong.

Where were all these concerned Christians who are appalled at Planned Parenthood when I needed them? Where were they when women were first setting up rape crisis lines? Where are they now when it comes to actively fighting all forms of sexual violence?

AWOL or busy telling rape victims to repent their immorality or busy telling Christian girls and women how not to tempt their "good" Christian brothers into sin or demanding that traditional families be protected and maintained -- no matter the physical or sexual violence one family member inflicts on the rest.

Sure they seem to be everywhere when a rape victim - victimized through force or manipulation is pregnant. But their concern seems to not be for the rape victim but for the fetus. More telling is that their scorn now is not for the rapists, but for an organization which is attempting to deal with the fallout of sexual contact.

Planned Parenthood is by no means perfect. They don't identify all victims of statutory or non-statutory rape. They disclose to their clients their mandated-reporting policy before they collect data from that client and don't verify volunteered information. But that is not the same as harboring rapists.

Do all Christian leaders and groups who work with pregnant teens, determine the age of the mother and biological father so they can report all possible statutory rapes to the police? When these Christians learn that there is sexual contact which falls under statutory rape and/or mandated reporting laws, do they always report that contact to law enforcement? If not, any claim made against Planned Parenthood must also be made against them.

Where is the outrage by these people when a pastor calls a girl a liar and paddles her when she discloses being sexually abused? Where are their actions in response to a study which found that convicted sex offenders with long-sustained religious beliefs committed more severe sex crimes than their non-religious counterparts? Where are the undercover reporters for Christian publications who are looking to see which officials and employees in Christian organizations "harbor" men who rape children by not just skirting mandated-reporting laws but ignoring them completely?

Clergy members do ignore mandated-reporting laws. They can directly harbor rapists either by refusing to believe victims or by assuming that prayer and spiritual guidance is a good substitute for a criminal investigation.

Is it okay then for Christians, Christian leaders and Christian groups to, as the headline above asserts, harbor men who rape children as long as these Christians never help those children get abortions or birth control?


When the rape victim is merely a vessel to these Christians, their attitudes aren't much different from the attitude held by rapists. Both feel they have the right to control these girls and ignore their wishes and the harm done to them.

Shame on them all.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:36 AM   1 comments links to this post


At May 19, 2007 12:33 PM, Blogger sailorman said...

Statutory rape is tricky.

there is absolutely NO QUESTION that you are right about your statements:
1) 4 years is a lot of age difference;
2) older people (generally males) can and do take advantage of their sexual partners, and
3) this is worth trying to stop.

Statutory rape laws cause problems, though, because they have no out. Had sex? One day too early? that's it for you: you are therefore busted, and (quite literally) your life will never be the same.

This is good when it happens to rapists.

But it is bad when it happens to people who are in an ACTUALLY consensual sexual relationship.

2 years? not so obvious. An older sophomore sleeps with a younger freshman... I have trouble calling that per se rape. (it could well be rape, but not always.) OTOH, I agree with you that a 4 year spread is pushing it. And at the younger end... am I allowed to just say "yuck?"

Perhaps there'd be an interesting compromise:

Under a 2 year age difference, you're bound by "normal" rape law.

Over 4 years, you're bound by statutory rape law.

between 2 and 4 years' difference, you'd be under "compromise" rape law: You don't get automatically convicted for having had sex, BUT there is a presumed lack of consent. So unless the defendant can prove consent, (s)he's busted.

Hmm. Wonder if that would be legal? It'd certainly be better than a 4 year spread.


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