Planned Parenthood faces a legal challenge in Colorado after Cary Smith, of Federal Heights, says she discovered that clinic staff failed to inquire or report about suspected sexual abuse of her 13-year-old daughter after giving her an abortion.
It was any mother’s nightmare.
According to the lawsuit filed on June 20, 2014, Cary’s daughter, R.Z., was only about six years old when her new step-father, Timothy David Smith, began to sexually abuse her. At this age, she was too young to realize that her step-father’s inordinate attention was actually a crime.
Little R.Z. turned seven, then eight. The years went by, and the abuse continued. But Cary Smith never knew.
The abuse eventually became both verbal and physical as well, with R.Z.'s step-father even threatening to take her life. Timothy’s verbal and physical abuse soon extended to Cary, even when R.Z. was present.
Then it happened. R.Z. got pregnant.
On May 3, 2012, Timothy transported his 13-year-old step-daughter to Planned Parenthood in Denver, Colorado, for an abortion appointment that Timothy had forced R.Z. to schedule.
Planned Parenthood staff met R.Z. and her step-father and gave them the necessary paperwork. R.Z. filled out her date of birth and signed a few forms, but Timothy completed all the rest. R.Z. never read these documents.
According to the suit, throughout the visit, four staff members spoke with and observed R.Z. and her step-father. All of them had opportunity to see that R.Z.’s birth date indicated she was only 13—well below the age of consent. Yet, the suit says that none of them asked R.Z. about their relationship and none of them asked why their last names were different. As well, none asked about potential sex abuse, and none of them reported anything to the state.
After the abortion, R.Z. walked back out to the parking lot, got into her step-father’s car, and went back home. And the abuse continued.
Two months later, on July 18, 2012, Timothy was outside of the home, and Cary was left alone with her daughter. R.Z. took the opportunity to tell her mom that her own step-father was sexually abusing her, and had been doing so for years.
Cary took the 13-year-old to the hospital and immediately reported the abuse. She contacted Planned Parenthood for her daughter’s medical records, and discovered that her husband had arranged for a secret abortion for R.Z. earlier that year.
Timothy Smith was arrested and charged with multiple counts of felony sex abuse, and pled guilty to two counts in late 2012.
But Cary was not content. Although R.Z.’s abuser was now behind bars, the system hadn’t worked.
The first medical professionals who had seen R.Z.—the four Planned Parenthood staff members—must have known that her daughter was a potential victim of sexual abuse. These were professionals who had the information to do something. They had opportunity to ask R.Z. before her mother even knew.
And they had the responsibility to act—to report suspected child sex abuse—under Colorado law.
But, according to the lawsuit, these professionals did nothing. Worse, they performed a dangerous, legally-restricted procedure on a minor child, without informing her mother, and turned R.Z. back over to her rapist following the abortion.
Cary maintains that defendants’ negligence “created an unreasonable risk of physical harm” to her daughter. Cary is now suing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for five claims for relief, including negligence, negligent affliction of emotional distress, and extreme and outrageous conduct.
“We applaud Cary Smith for her brave stand to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their crime against her daughter,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “This lawsuit is another indication that Planned Parenthood is dedicated to one thing—selling abortion; and they do not care how many young girls are raped or abused in the process.”