How Puppy Love Became a Sex Crime
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Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 02:25:28 AM EST
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From last Saturday's New York Times:

Kiss-and-Tell No More

A federal judge in Kansas has dealt another blow to the crusade by the state's attorney general, Phill Kline, to restrict abortions under the phony banner of combating child abuse.

In February, the Kansas Supreme Court blocked Mr. Kline from invading the medical privacy of 90 women and girls who were treated at two abortion clinics. This week, a federal trial judge in Wichita killed Mr. Kline's daft idea to require doctors, school counselors and psychotherapists, among others, to report all sexual activity by people under 16, from kissing to sexual intercourse.
It seems too much to hope that this will end the matter, since Mr. Kline is likely to appeal, and anti-abortion groups are eager to expand the use of child-abuse reporting laws. But for the moment, the thoughtful new ruling gives supporters of medical privacy and reproductive freedom a victory.

Just about no one in Kansas would expect Phill Kline to give up now - not the man who says God asked him to run for Attorney General.

In a PBS NOW interview, Kline claimed that his dogged pursuit of alleged sex crimes against minors was more than just a pretext for prosecuting providers of abortion care and family planning services, but NOW's David Brancaccio caught him in a whopper.  

DAVID BRANCACCIO: But if you're worried about the issue of kids being raped and exploitation of kids, why not also seek medical records about very young 12 and 13-year-old kids who've had babies but haven't had abortions, and go after those medical records? Why were they pregnant in those cases?

ATTORNEY GENERAL KLINE: You assume we haven't.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: Well, have you done that?

ATTORNEY GENERAL KLINE: Yes. Certainly, we look at all instances of child exploitation.

BRANCACCIO: NOW canvassed hospitals near Planned Parenthood's headquarters - none reported receiving subpoenas for medical records.

As Talk to Action's own mrblifil observed in a comment to the Lawrence Journal-World, "Uh oh. Phill made a whoopsie."

By concentrating on late abortion procedures on teens, as if that were evidence of child rape, he let the cat out of the bag that the overwhelming majority of teen pregnancies in Kansas are carried to term. Therefore the real trove of evidence is in the state's delivery rooms and neo-natal care units. But then everybody would know that Kansas is rife with teen immorality, so he changed horses in mid-stream and started "crusading" against all teen sex. This way he has the luxury of avoiding accountability for his actions by being laughed out of court, in hopes that people will forget the precepts under which he began his witch hunt in the first place.

Kline's tactic of pressuring health care providers to turn their minor patients into the authorities as sex offenders was almost certainly inspired by Life Dynamics International -- a Denton, Texas-based antiabortion organization fronted by Mark Crutcher, whose amazing resemblance to Karl Rove is more than skin deep. Crutcher says that he dreams of an America where abortion is still legal, but nobody can get one.

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Life Dynamics displays an online directory of 737 clinics in the United States that offer abortion care -- or, as Crutcher vividly styles them, Death Camps.
Against a spookily gothic background graphic evoking images of torture that would have warmed the heart of the Marquis de Sade, the "Death Camps" page of the LDI site encourages its readers to lend assistance in cleansing America of . . . well, people like me.

This page lists every abortion clinic in America, so that you can be encouraged as we countdown toward victory. Rest assured, Life Dynamics will not stop until every one of these death camps is closed and the American holocaust is over.

Fax corrections to Life Dynamics at 940-380-8700
or call us at 940-380-8800 or click here to let us know:

  • if you see a mistake on this site
  • if a new death camp opens
  • if a death camp closes
  • if a death camp changes locations.

Naturally enough, Phill Kline says, "I don't understand the problem with Life Dynamics."

However, when asked whether his Kansas crusade against abortion providers was assisted by LDI, Kline hastened to deny that he was working in association with Crutcher's group. Kline's transparent attempt to distance himself is entirely understandable given the nature of the "investigation" that LDI conducted into a fantastic tale involving the alleged selling of fetal body parts by clinics, a news bombshell that fizzled out overnight when Crutcher's chief witness admitted that he had been paid $21,000 to lie. That allegation was followed by Crutcher's notorious claim that more than 800 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country are in active collaboration with pedophiles who rape female children and pay Planned Parenthood to cover up their crimes.

Even without $21,000 as an incentive, under questioning by Brancaccio Kline was quick to deny any connection with Life Dynamics. And at the time of the interview, that might have been, if not truthful, at least "truthy."  But an attorney for Life Dynamics earlier had been hired by Kline's office to defend his fancifully contortionistic interpretation of Kansas' statutory rape laws. It's just that after word got out, the LDI attorney was quickly un-hired. That Kline first hired an LDI attorney, and then misled PBS about it when asked, said more about what he was up to than any of his official pronouncements.

A report from Indiana's Nuvo reveals that Crutcher isn't quite so reticent: "We did this investigation -- the  research and the sting operation -- we turned all that over to the attorney general in 11 states and now some of those states are reacting. I can't say what states I gave the information to, but it's not hard to make the connection."

Other "consultants" to Kline's campaign have appeared as expert witnesses in the most recent trial. They include such seasoned "pro-life" luminaries as Vincent Rue, a Florida-based psychologist and "traumatologist" who runs his Institute for Pregnancy Loss out of his Jacksonville home. Rue is best known as an inventor of the highly dubious condition known as Post-Abortion Syndrome, which defines the mental state of a "post-abortive" woman as a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unrecognized by any legitimate medical or psychiatric standard, PAS has become a big gun in the anti-choice arsenal, and Rue flogged it to great effect as a witness before the South Dakota Task Force on Abortion.  

For a $150,000 fee, Rue was also more than glad to assist Kline as an expert witness in his efforts to paint any form of teen sex as psychologically damaging -- thus classifying it as a child abuse "injury" reportable by law.

To a casual observer, Rue would look like a bit player in the trial, helping attorneys move files in an and out of the courthouse in a large wire pushcart.

But indications are he is much more than a porter.

One Kline witness, child psychiatrist Allan Josephson of Louisville, Ky., testified Monday that he changed his opinion about the need for reporting of teenage sexual activity to authorities after talking to Rue.

Josephson said Rue provided him with research materials and other information to help him form his opinion.

Ah, yes, we mustn't leave out child psychiatrist Dr. Allan Josephson.  In testimony before the court, Josephson said that he and Rue have worked on other court cases, and that it was Rue who showed him the wisdom of reporting sexually active teenagers and their parents to the authorities: "At first, I thought it was too intrusive. ... Then after I got more information from Dr. Rue, I thought, 'Yes, this is an answer to a high-risk behavior.'"  

Josephson ... told the judge that sex before age 16 contributes to problems ranging from depression to suicide -- especially for girls.
Josephson testified that early sexual experiences lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuity.

"There can be a downward spiral, especially in a young girl," he said.

Josephson said girls who lose their virginity before they're married suffer most.

"A core sense of self or personhood is lost in that experience," Josephson testified.

After Josephson said on cross-examination that he'd changed his opinion on at least four different areas from a report he made last year, Marten began pressing the psychiatrist. The judge wanted to know if Josephson had contradicting ideas about contraception.

Josephson testified that he doesn't support writing prescriptions for birth control pills to girls under 16.

But the psychiatrist said that while he didn't favor making condoms available to young people, he wouldn't support controls on their distribution.

Josephson does think that once a teen gets pregnant, abortion shouldn't be an option.

"If it's safe, say the pelvis isn't too small, a child could be better served by having a child, putting it up for adoption and then dealing with the behavior that led to the pregnancy," Josephson said. "The product of that behavior should not be eliminated."

Josephson added that teen girls would be discouraged from seeking abortions, or from even having sex, if their activities were required to be reported to social services.

Whether it's child abuse, or consensual sex between teenagers, or any female's indulgence in sex before marriage -- no distinction, no matter -- Dr. Josephson's expert testimony was that "a core sense of self or personhood is lost."  In his opinion, that qualifies any teenage sex as a child abuse injury, and any mandated reporter who failed to notify the authorities would be in violation of the law.

How did Kline's campaign to force disclosure of confidential medical records degenerate into an inquisition on the criminality of teenage sexual exploration?  Even Kline himself seems confused about what he thinks ought to be illegal, but like Rue and Josephson, he's pretty sure it's more worthy of condemnation if you're a girl. Here are a few gems dredged from his own testimony by the Wichita Eagle.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who has concentrated on protecting young teens from sexual abuse, drew a legal distinction Friday between the activities of boys and girls.

Kline's comments about oral sex included stating that it is illegal for boys 15 and younger to perform the act -- but he wasn't sure if the same is true for girls.
Kline said illegal sexual activity would be conduct "which is so clearly offensive as to shock the moral conscience of a reasonable person."
[Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Bonnie Scott] Jones asked Kline what contact would be acceptable.

"It's difficult for me to say, maybe, kissing and petting," Kline said.
Jones had more questions:

"Is a 15-year-old girl engaging in oral sex on a 15-year-old boy, is that a crime?"

Kline: "If there's penetration, yes."

Jones: "What would be the penetration?"

Kline: "I'm not certain."
Is it a crime, Jones asked, "for 15-year-old boy to perform oral sex on a 15-year old girl?"

Kline: "Yes."

Jones: "Is it inherently injurious for a 15-year-old girl to engage in oral sex on a 15-year-old boy?"

Kline: "I'm not certain."

Kansas authorities better informed than Kline about the true nature of criminal child abuse wish he'd find something else to get excited about. Sandra Hazlett, director of Social and Rehabilitative Services' Children and Family Services in Kansas, testified that SRS does not deem consensual sex between similarly aged teens to be criminal, and informed the court that her agency does not do any follow-up when such activity is reported.  After asserting that an avalanche of bogus child abuse reports would prevent her already stretched-thin agency from servicing its legitimate caseload -- and in a real shocker to Kline's moral conscience -- Hazlett added, "Sexual exploration is a normal part of sexual development."  The Eagle's reporter neglected to say whether the Attorney General  was given smelling salts.

Kansas isn't the only state where medical personnel and their teenage patients are burdened by restrictions that only target providers of family planning and abortion care. Mark Crutcher's efforts have paid off in Texas, too, where the state's licensing rules for our facility mandate the same kind of intrusion into innocent, if premature, relationships.

So we make our reports, as the law requires us to do, and the social service and police agencies file and forget them. A detective in the Dallas Police Department's Child Abuse Unit expressed to me his own frustration: "Look, you know what you're doing, you know what needs to be reported, and you've done it well for years. What am I supposed to do now? Rush over there and arrest a pair of 13 year-olds for sexually abusing each other?"

If Phill Kline eventually gets his way, the answer will be yes.

we'll just have to keep explaining the absurdity of our own state's policy to patients and their parents, and giving them a copy of our faxed report to take home with them, which helps to alleviate the anxiety they feel about the possibility of an official knock at the front door.

Unlike the situation in Kansas, the more rigorous child abuse reporting requirement for clinics in Texas came as as regulation, not legislation -- a complement to the omnibus anti-choice TRAP bill passed in 2003.

As a contact in the state capital told me at the time, "They [anti-choice state officials] don't believe you can possibly follow all the rules, so the inspectors are being told that 'if you don't find something wrong, you're not looking hard enough.' The comment I heard was 'we're going to bust somebody.'"

And they do try.

by moiv on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 03:00:58 AM EST

that require that all elected officials be Christians.  I'm trying to find out more about this for a speech about the Religious Right.  Do you know if this is accurate?

by tikkun on Fri Apr 28, 2006 at 10:05:22 PM EST
but the Texas Constitution clearly says that atheists are not qualified for public office and might as well save their filing fees.

Article 1 - BILL OF RIGHTS


No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Best of luck with your speech. :)

by moiv on Sat Apr 29, 2006 at 12:49:48 AM EST

It's rather interesting you mention the bogus "post-abortion syndrome" and its promotion by Life Dynamics Institute and Kline.

Among other things, one of the top reasons people are referred to "theophostic counseling"--aka "Christian counseling"--by dominionists is because of the bogus "post-abortion syndrome" claims--and often by "abortion alternatives" services like Life Dynamics.

This is especially disturbing, seeing as these "Christian counseling" services can be considered in and of themselves as coercive religious groups and use some of the exact same abusive tactics as Scientology (which, interestingly, also claims there is such a thing as "abortion trauma").

by dogemperor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 11:08:15 AM EST

no matter the sponsoring church or denomination.

From the testimonial of a CPC director on the site of the North American Mission Board:

As director of a pregnancy care center, I see hundreds of young women each year in similar circumstances. Many are single; some are considering abortion; most are experiencing unplanned pregnancies. They come to us for a variety of reasons--free pregnancy tests and confidential counseling, diapers and baby supplies, maternity clothes, often to talk about abortion.

Whatever their reason for coming, we know they are really there because God has entrusted them to us. Last year 106 of them accepted Christ as Savior. Many others recommitted their lives to His Lordship and chose abstinence as a lifestyle. All heard that God loved them and had a plan for their lives.

We are not unique. Over 3,000 prgnancy care centers (some are called crisis pregnancy centers) exist around the country. There's probably one in your town. If not, there should be. Each year hundreds of thousands of women experience crisis pregnancies, and they are faced with life or death decisions. If they listen to the voices of the world, they choose death. If they listen to the voice of God, they choose life - it's really that

The promise of free sonograms and baby clothes are just bait for the trap.  And if you've already had an abortion, they fix you up with a one-way ticket to Rachel's Vineyard.

by moiv on Tue Apr 25, 2006 at 10:39:33 PM EST

The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing affirms the moral agency of women, and supports the widespread availability of safe, accurate, and affordable information about and access to contraception, prenatal care and intentional parenting. The institute opposes any attempt to make specific religious doctrine the law for all Americans or the women of the world; women must have the right to apply or reject the principles of her own faith without legal restrictions. Coercing parental consent and notification are punitive and do nothing to promote moral decision-making. Instead, our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sex acts.

For more information, visit Rev. Haffner's blog at or the Religious Institute's homepage at

by Religious Institute on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 05:08:08 PM EST

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