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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justice issues results of probe into abortion clinics and minors

By The Star Staff

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández on Tuesday released the results of a complete investigation stemming from a Senate Committee on Life and Family Affairs referral that abortion clinics were not reporting abuse against minors seeking to end their pregnancies.

Emanuelli Hernández highlighted in a written statement that “each of the cases identified was investigated, with the protection of minors as a priority, as well as safeguarding their health and safety.”

The official emphasized the effort made by the Justice Department to carry out criminal investigations in two cases involving minors under 15 years of age.

“As a result of the process, criminal investigations were launched into the possible commission of sexual crimes against two minors under 15 years of age,” he said. “In this way, we try to prosecute and ensure that those responsible are penalized, to provide justice to the victims.”

Regarding the controversy over the clinics’ lack of notification, the secretary added: “We carried out a legal analysis and concluded that if it was determined that they engaged in illegal conduct, criminal action would be undertaken.”

A report from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice has shown that, of 67 suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors who underwent abortions, the clinics only made three referrals for investigation. The finding arose after an investigation requested by the Committee on Life and Family Affairs, which revealed significant noncompliance with the law that requires reporting cases of abuse.

Emanuelli Hernández reaffirmed the commitment of the Justice Department to the defense of minors and the importance of urgently and sensitively addressing any complaint of crimes against them.

“We urge citizens to watch over and protect minors, who are vulnerable to harmful behaviors that threaten their integrity and development,” he said.

Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve, who chairs the committee, stressed the seriousness of the situation and the need to take legislative measures to guarantee the protection of minors.

“From the above arises the need to approve legislation and amend the corresponding regulations to ensure the protection of minors aged 15 years or younger who attend abortion clinics,” she said in a written statement.

The investigation revealed, meanwhile, that in many cases the sexual conduct that resulted in pregnancy was carried out with the consent and knowledge of both parties, without the use of force or intimidation. However, there were situations in which the age difference between the girl and the boy was significant, constituting a crime under the commonwealth Penal Code.

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