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Group questions actions of Roanoke abortion clinic and response of state health department

By Joe Dashiell, jdashiell@wdbj7.com
Published On: Mar 21 2014 06:16:32 PM EDT
Roanoke Medical Center for Women
ROANOKE, Va. -

The Virginia Department of Health is requesting an opinion from the Virginia Attorney General's office, after a conservative group questioned the state's response to an inspection of a Roanoke abortion clinic.

The Family Foundation is a conservative advocacy group that opposes abortion.

The group questioned whether the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on minors without parental consent, and whether the Department of Health fulfilled its responsibility to report possible cases of sexual abuse.

The allegations stem from a 2012 inspection of records at the Roanoke center, which showed that minors received abortions without proper documentation of parental consent.

Victoria Cobb is President of The Family Foundation. "There are two instances in the inspection report of Roanoke Medical Center for Women where it failed to get proper parental consent," Cobb told WDBJ7 in a telephone interview. "We know that the I-81 corridor is used for human trafficking, so anyone who cares about these kids should want to make sure these girls weren't victims."

Jill Abbey is the Director of the Richmond Medical Center for Women, which oversees the Roanoke location. "Parental consent was given. The mothers were there at the center with the patients," Abbey told WDBJ7 in a phone call Friday afternoon. "It is something that we have responded to with the Department of Health. They've accepted our response. And we want people to know that we do take very seriously parental involvement."

Abbey said it was an isolated incident involving paperwork that has been corrected.

In a statement Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Health said the Interim State Health Commissioner is requesting an opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring.

“VDH takes its statutory responsibilities very seriously," Maribeth Brewster wrote in an email, "and Dr. Levine has requested an official advisory opinion from the Attorney General concerning our specific responsibilities in this instance.”

The Director of the Richmond Medical Center for Women said The Family Foundation is trying to "smear" the clinic.  And Jill Abbey said she believes it is no coincidence that the conservative group waited for the new Democratic administration to take office before publicizing its complaints against the health department.