Spokane police serve search warrant for fetus DNA

AP News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2011 3:43 PM
Spokane police serve search warrant for fetus DNA

Police served a search warrant on Planned Parenthood for tissue from an aborted fetus in hopes of proving a child rape case through DNA evidence.

A spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department said Thursday that while the decision was unusual, the technique isn't new when used to help prove a rape case.

A 15-year-old girl reported that she became pregnant by a 21-year-old man in early August. When her parents learned about the pregnancy from her school, they took her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, KREM-TV reported.

They also notified police, who arrived at Planned Parenthood when the procedure was taking place to serve a search warrant for tissue from the fetus, Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said. Police took tissue from the fetus for DNA testing that is likely to take several weeks, she said.

"It's one of those sad cases where this young girl gets pregnant," she said. "It was not a forcible rape. There was consent, but the age of consent in Washington is 16 and she is 15."

Detectives have said that if the DNA from the fetus matches a sample from the suspect, it would show paternity and prove the allegation of third-degree rape of a child.

The technique isn't new, DeRuwe said, but the case might be more unusual because of the abortion.

"If she would have carried to term, we would have been able to get DNA another way," she said. "Because that was her choice, we needed to prove paternity."

Planned Parenthood released a statement Thursday, saying the agency is committed to the privacy of all patients and is a proud partner with law enforcement.

"Planned Parenthood strictly follows all local, state and federal laws and regulations including the federal law that protects the privacy of health information and state laws regarding mandatory reporting," the statement said.

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Information from: KREM-TV, http://www.krem.com/