Michael N. Herring, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, has announced that though the Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR) staffer who signed a 16-year-old girl’s consent form for an abortion did not have legal authority to do so, he will not prosecute because there was no criminal intent.
The Guatemalan girl was in the legal custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services and was in the foster care of Commonwealth Catholic Charities. She already has one child and reportedly had been fitted with a contraceptive device provided by CCR members two months before CCR staffers and volunteers helped her obtain an abortion on January 18.
Herring said he spoke with Commonwealth Catholic Charities and the staffer who signed the form, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports. He reported that the staffers believed they had the authority to sign the consent form after the Office of Refugee Resettlement said it would not provide funding for the abortion but did not direct staffers to refrain from signing.
Virginia law requires a minor seeking an abortion to secure a consent form signed by an authorized person, such as a parent, a legal guardian or a person acting as parent. Herring said the staffer believed she had the authority to sign the form.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities has fired the four employees allegedly involved in the abortion.