Planned Parenthood has said its employees will undergo a new round of training after a bunch of videos secretly recorded by Live Action showed them giving medical information to purported pimps of purported underage prostitutes. Is that a tacit admission of wrongdoing? Beyond the one New Jersey employee who did cheerfully offer to engage in illegal activity, no. The problem here is that Live Action and its supporters are willfully misreading the facts.
Take the Bronx video, released today. It follows the basic boilerplate of a "pimp," accompanied by a "prostitute" (neither underage nor apparently trafficked), asking about abortions for girls who are fourteen or fifteen years old and under their supposed care. The employee responds by explaining the laws and applicable services.
In response, Planned Parenthood of New York City said, "Had the teens in question come into our center, they would have met with a licensed social worker. All teens coming into Planned Parenthood of New York City are screened for child abuse and neglect."
But Live Action and its supporters seem to think that the health professionals should have jumped up and shouted, "That's illegal!" instead of calling the FBI to alert them subsequently of any illegal activity. Here's The New York Times on the move:
The new round of training, they said, will not involve a change in policy but a reminder about those laws. Consistent with the law, clinics in most states will continue to provide confidential treatment and contraception to girls as young as 14 without parental consent.
But it is unreasonable, federation officials said, to expect those interviewing a new patient- and who are required by law to offer confidentiality - to take action on the spot.
"We are not asking the front-line health worker or receptionist to do a legal analysis of the situation, but rather to report it when there is any hint of a risk to the welfare of a minor," Mr. Schear said.
So, basically what they did in calling the FBI. The problem is that Live Action is blurring the fake pimp's activity with the fact that Planned Parenthood separately gives out information to minors about their legal rights to contraception and abortion. As Amanda Marcotte puts it,
The videos, especially after the first one, only work to scandalize if you believe that young people don't have rights. If you believe, incorrectly, that a minor can't get contraception, STD testing, or accurate information about your legal rights without parental notification, maybe these videos would scandalize you. Rose and Fox News go out of their way to imply that the offers of non-abortion reproductive care to minors are somehow outside the law. The reality is that these are the rights of young people. That many conservatives don't believe that young people should have human rights doesn't mean that those rights don't exist.
Meanwhile, on the hard-right, Rose is being hailed as the Upton Sinclair of this generation. Even Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said that the Richmond clip was "very disturbing." And the push to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress goes on.
As Gail Collins noted grimly of the legislation that would strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding for sex education and contraceptive services, "Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches." Conservatives have offered no plan for medical services for the underserved women who find their way to Planned Parenthood. The author of the bill, Mike Pence, did offer this wisdom: "What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?" How can you debate someone who exists in an alternate version of reality?
Planned Parenthood To Retrain Staff On Reporting Requirements [NYT]
Why Give Lila Rose's Dishonesty Mainstream Attention? [RH Reality Check]
Why Is Live Action Doctoring Planned Parenthood Audio? [Media Matters]
The Siege Of Planned Parenthood [NYT]