Abortion opponents held a rally and news conference outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Tempe on Thursday, calling for an immediate investigation of the facility.
The Center for Arizona Policy and other advocacy groups are demanding an investigation into a report that a worker at the clinic said the sexual assault of a young girl was a consensual encounter to avoid the "hassle" of reporting it to authorities.
The parent of the girl later reported the rape and incident at the clinic to the Pinal County Sheriff's Department.
The Thursday news conference was held on the corner of Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane. Center for Arizona Policy's Cathi Herrod was joined by state Reps. Debbie Lesko, Kelly Townsend and Warren Petersen, state Sens. Nancy Barto and David Farnsworth and representatives of other organizations, including the Susan B. Anthony List and Students for Life of America.
"This is not a question of being pro-life or pro-abortion, it is a question of justice and protection for our daughters," Herrod said.
Herrod said the Arizona Life Coalition had launched a petition calling for the Attorney General's Office and the Arizona Department of Health Services to investigate the incident and to review all cases at the Tempe location to look for unreported rapes.
Also Thursday, Lesko's Women's Health Protection Act, went into effect. The bill eliminates a requirement for ADHS to obtain a warrant in order to conduct an unscheduled inspection of an abortion clinic. Abortion clinics had been the only health-care facilities in the state that weren't subject to unscheduled inspections.
"Maybe, just maybe, my legislation will help legislators get to the bottom of what happened here," Lesko said.
On April 17, the girl's mother said in a police report about a sexual assaultthat one of the counselors at the clinic "miscoded the assault as a consensual encounter." The counselor reportedly told the mother and the victim that it was mandatory to report the assault to law enforcement, but the counselor did not want to deal with having to report it.
Planned Parenthood couldn't be reached Thursday. In a June statement, the organization said: "Planned Parenthood Arizona learned about this case for the first time from a member of the media in May, and we immediately contacted the Pinal County Sheriff's Department to get more information about a puzzling claim regarding our services that if true would be a serious violation of our policy."
The girl's accused assailant is 18-year-old Tyler Kost, a Pinal County high-school student who has been charged with 29 felonies against 18 victims in the San Tan Valley area. Kost has been charged with 27 counts of sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse of a minor.
After the report of the incident at the clinic, a sheriff's spokesman said the agency asked ADHS on May 5 to look into the allegations.
ADHS could not be reached for comment on whether there is an investigation.
Sheriff Paul Babeu also wrote a letter to Attorney General Tom Horne on May 13, asking for his office to begin a criminal investigation into the allegation.
The Attorney General's Office didn't respond to a call for comment.
Reporter Sean Holstege contributed to this article.
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