Earlier this week, Lila Rose's Live Action released a video of a Planned Parenthood employee in New Jersey who cheerfully promised to help a fake pimp and prostitute circumvent the law behind her colleagues' back. She's been fired. It's not clear what else Live Action has in the wings, but the first Virginia video isn't shocking anyone. Two more were just released and are along similar lines. ABC News wrote of the video seen above,
Unlike the first video, the Richmond clinic worker appears to act professionally and appropriately, informing the couple of their legal rights to privacy under the law, regardless of their backgrounds.
"We see people from, um, every walk of life," said the clinic worker. "So, no judgment, no sharing of information, like, uh, nothing here."
The worker also laid out legal guidelines for a minor seeking an abortion, including the requirement of parental consent or permission from a judge before one can be performed.
The fact that the employee informed the actors of the existence of a judicial bypass for minors is somehow seen by abortion opponents as proof enough of wrongdoing. The story told in this video is also different from the one in New Jersey in terms of how strongly trafficking and underage sex work are suggested. Says Lila Rose, the ringleader of the efforts:
"The only acceptable response to encountering a self-identified sex-trafficker of underage girls is zero tolerance. The only ‘professional' response is to immediately call law enforcement to the scene and push for an arrest. Our investigation – and their response – continues to show that an institutional crisis has engulfed the highest levels of Planned Parenthood. If you're a sex-trafficker of minors or young women, you have a partner in Planned Parenthood. But if you are a minor or a young woman, you are not safe at Planned Parenthood clinics."
The problem with these videos, and Rose's description of them, is the blurring between trying to make sure that women involved in illegal activities, or victims of trafficking, have access to care, and covering up for a pimp or a sex ring. On a conference call with Planned Parenthood and Media Matters yesterday, I asked them to describe what the protocol is on this front.
Stuart Schear, Planned Parenthood's director of communications, replied, "The motivations of the former employee [Amy Woodruff in New Jersey] are inexplicable to us. Whatever the situation was, we view it as a complete lack of responsibility. If a situation like that occurs, the recommendation is to take a break, say, 'I'll be back in a minute,' and ask a colleague to go back and listen in with them. Someone should be in the room to corroborate. And then call legal authorities. The laws in every state are different and sometimes the reporting standards change from county to country." And the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, added, "Our concern clearly is ensuring that we report any situation where we believe a minor may be endangered or at risk." She said the situation the actors were describing was so extreme, "none of our staff are experienced with dealing with that, because that's not what happens."
In any case, Planned Parenthood did alert the FBI, whether or not they believed there was a sudden multi-state rise in sex trafficking rings, or whether they suspected there was a hoax.
It's clear that these videos will be a central facet of the attempt, with the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pence, to strip Planned Parenthood of the federal funding it receives for contraceptive and sex education services. Michele Bachmann already got in on this today, saying, "Planned Parenthood performed 324,000 abortions in 2010. That should be enough reason to ensure that it never receives another taxpayer dollar from our government." (Abortions are about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's overall work.) She went on, "But alarming new revelations about Planned Parenthood raise questions about whether the organization is breaking the law." Anti-abortion groups and Republican lawmakers are already fast-track that bill.
Activists Targeting Planned Parenthood Release Undercover Video [ABC News]
Bachmann Backs Planned Parenthood Sting Video [Minnesota Independent]
Anti-Abortion Group Releases More Va. Videos [AP]
Undercover 'Sex Work' Videos Fuel Congressional Campaign Against Planned Parenthood [Fox News]