BATON ROUGE, LA (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Louisiana Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking a federal appeals court to unseal documents from an abortion mill that the department says were kept hidden from the Supreme Court, and which reveal the cover-up of rape.
The agency alleges it discovered evidence of criminal activity and professional misconduct at the Hope Medical Group in Shreveport in the process of another investigation, after which a federal district judge placed a seal on the documents.
According to the state attorney general's website, "The attempt by June Medical Services (doing business as Hope Medical Group) to hide evidence of criminal and professional misconduct discovered in pending litigation is leading attorneys for the Louisiana Department of Justice to ask a federal appeals court to intervene and permit reporting to appropriate authorities."
We have a legal obligation to report potentially criminal activity to law enforcement & licensing authorities. Shockingly, Hope Medical is refusing to unseal this evidence & permit us to carry out our legal duties. https://t.co/9vLIl5qGzh #WomenDeserveTheTruth pic.twitter.com/Vir0gAQtZg— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) November 26, 2019
Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill said it was "shocking" that Hope Medical Group is refusing to unseal the evidence so the state DOJ can "carry out our legal duties."
"I am deeply concerned about the basic health and safety of Louisiana women. And Hope's continued efforts to hide this information from the Supreme Court and to block reporting to proper authorities casts serious doubt on Hope and its abortion providers' claims that it represents the interests of Louisiana women," Murrill said in a statement on the agency's website.
"As DOJ officers, if we learn of potentially criminal activity during litigation, we have a legal obligation to report it to criminal investigators and licensing authorities. We also have a basic legal duty to protect the public from dangerous behavior when we learn of it," she added.
Ordinarily, the evidence would have been expedited in a criminal referral, but that move has been impeded by the sealing of documents.
What the Louisiana DOJ will find if the documents are unsealed remains unclear. But the state attorney general's office said Louisiana's abortion mills have a disturbing pattern of failing to report rape. Based on a survey it conducted, at least 66 abortions were performed on girls 11, 12 and 13 years old between 2013 and 2018. The ages strongly suggest the girls could be survivors of rape.
The absence of rape reports is of grave concern to the attorney general's office and sends up a red flag.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments early next year on the abortion mill's challenge to a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The challenge represents one of a series of lawsuits the abortuary has filed against Louisiana anti-abortion measures that have passed the legislature since 2014.
Louisiana in recent years has passed three laws, nearly all stopped by the courts and in various stages of appeal, that attempt to limit abortions.
One law extends the waiting period on having an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, and another requires doctors performing abortions to be "board certified in family medicine or OB-GYN or residents [who] work under supervision of doctors with these certifications," according to the state attorney general's office.
Abortion advocates support the challenges to the Louisiana laws. Kelly Krause, media contact for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, "For years, the state of Louisiana has been relying on baseless attacks on abortion providers to defend its unconstitutional abortion restrictions and this is only the latest example."
The Trump era has seen an array of reproductive policy horrors, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s tracking of teen girls’ pregnancies and periods to prevent them from seeking abortions https://t.co/dJ4eo2GudD @washingtonpost— Hope Clinic for Women (@HopeClinicWomen) November 26, 2019
Two Louisiana abortion mills that closed recently shredded all their documents when they shut down, leading department officials to suspect that comprehensive data has likely been withheld from regulators and the public in the case of Hope Medical Group.
"The evidence and statistics abortion providers are using to claim abortions are safe are national and not state-specific," Murrill explained. "This narrative they have that everything they do is safe and helpful is not true."