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Updated Jul 24, 2014 - 5:39 pm

Opponents call for investigation into Tempe Planned Parenthood

Cathi Herrod, director of the Center for Arizona Policy, addresses a crowd at a Planned Parenthood in Tempe, Ariz. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

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.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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