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Weekly Ministry Focus

Controversy ignites over 12-year-old's abortion
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When a 12-year-old girl was brought to Bakersfield's FPA abortion chamber last week, law enforcement officials seemed reluctant to respond. Under California's statutory rape law (Penal Code section 261.5), a crime had been committed, as evidenced by the child's pregnancy. But apparently this law is not being fully enforced in Kern County.

Terri Palmquist was told about the girl by "Celina," who came to the LifeHouse after being inside FPA. Terri contacted the Bakersfield Police Department, but the BPD dispatcher (Cathy) informed Terri that she would not send an officer. After several calls, Cathy attempted to placate Terri by saying "the clinic is complying with the law."

Terri then contacted a KGET TV-17 reporter, who was shocked to hear about the 12-year-old's abortion, remarking "I didn't think that it was legal for a 12-year-old to have an abortion." The police responded more professionally to the reporter, indicating that an investigation would be conducted.

Police finally arrived several hours later, but not to interview the girl. They escorted another young woman out of the abortion center, apparently to help her avoid being videotaped. Then the officers left without attempting to contact the 12-year-old girl.

Sgt. Gary Rhodes of the Kern County Sheriff's Department eventually investigated the case, apparently because the girl does not live inside the Bakersfield city limits.

"This is not a criminal matter," Sgt. Rhodes said, stating that the person who impregnated the girl was not an adult. Sgt. Rhodes chose not to question the boy who allegedly impregnated the girl.

Penal Code section 261.5 outlaws sex between two minors in addition to sex between an adult and minor. In the 1998 case In re T.A.J., the First District Court of Appeals held that the statutory rape law is enforceable against a minor. But Sgt. Rhodes defended his decision not to pursue the case by asserting "The D.A. will not file charges in circumstances like this."

Deputy District Attorney Robert Barton said that the Kern County District Attorney's office does not ignore statutory rape when both parties are minors, but he explained that if the ages of the boy and the girl are less than three years apart, most people would not find the boy guilty (even though he is guilty according to the law).

Nevertheless, Barton expressed interest in handling such cases with probation, even if they are not "prosecutable." Any further sexual encounters between the boy and girl would be handled as probation violations. Barton also said officers should interview the boy as a part of their investigation of a statutory rape case.

Celina said that the woman who brought the 12-year-old girl to the abortion chamber (probably the girl's mother) mentioned the girl's age when the abortion chamber staff asked what birth control method the girl would use after the abortion. The woman said that she wanted the girl to be on "the pill."

While waiting to be called in for the abortion, the girl seemed to be irritated by the woman who brought her. According to Celina, the woman tried to get the girl to look at magazines, saying "we've got to do something to get this off our minds," but the girl tossed the magazines aside.

Sgt. Rhodes said that in all of his years with the Kern County Sheriff's Department, he could not recall another case which began as a report from an abortion facility. But minor girls are seen entering the FPA abortion chamber every week.

Life Dynamics, Inc. has recently exposed the nationwide scandal of abortionists failing to report statutory rape and other forms of abuse. For more information, go to, or

More news from Weekly Ministry Focus Vol. 3 No. 3