The Live Action "sting" against Planned Parenthood has revealed nothing about either abortion care or sex trafficking in America. It has, however, revealed that the right-wing fringe is just recycling—a pimp, again? Let's look at the fallout.
To recap, Live Action's Lila Rose got a $125,000 grant from an unknown donor to send people posing as pimps and prostitutes to at least 11 Planned Parenthood health centers in six states. A previous setup in December 2009 unearthed the shocking revelations that abortion counselors told health care seekers that 10 weeks in, it's called a fetus, and that it's safer to have an abortion than to have a baby — both of which happen to be true.
In this case, Planned Parenthood alerted Attorney General Eric Holder that there could be an underage sex ring — or anti-choice groups are just wasting everybody's time. There was one exception: A manager in Central New Jersey who is shown in the video privately saying she would turn a blind eye to the prospect of girls as young as fourteen and fifteen, possibly illegal immigrants and working in the sex trade, coming in to be tested for STDs and possibly have abortions. She refers them to a clinic that she says is less strict than Planned Parenthood when it comes to younger teens.
On what we see alone — keeping in mind the creative editing track record of Rose's associates, including pimp-posing James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart (who smeared Shirley Sherrod) — it's clear that this woman fucked up by offering to go behind even her colleagues' back, but why? Because she loves sex traffickers? Because she wants to kill as many babies as possible? You just have to listen to her own words about that made-up prostitutes who is possibly Asian or Latina: "She's still entitled to care." The correct thing would have been to alert the authorities, and the woman has been fired, but her impulse was clearly to provide a safe haven for care for women who needed it, in the reality they were living in.
In the meantime, we're sure the Attorney General appreciates his staff resources being allocated to this pressing case, given that all of the real sex traffickers have already been caught. (What's that?) As Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check put it:
Does it help to clarify for policymakers, the media, and potentially engaged constituencies the problems of sex trafficking within the United States? Assist in identifying victims of sex trafficking and provide them with assistance? Focus on reducing the violence to which street children are exposed? Examine the policies and conditions that might exacerbate sex trafficking of minors? Help get victims of sex trafficking shelter, legal help....urgently needed medical care? Victims of sex trafficking, after all, also need sexual health services because they are effectively being raped regularly and are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections and experience unintended pregnancies. Does this help them get treatment?
Is there anything about this that focuses on the real needs and rights of actual human beings?
Nope. Unable to find any actual scandals at Planned Parenthood, anti-choicers resort to simply trying to create them. As Alex Pareene put it,
These conservative undercover "hoaxes" are best understood as an attempt to make their fantasies real. In order to make animate the world that they feverishly imagine, they must themselves become the unsavory characters with bad motivations that they enjoy thinking populate these hotbeds of degenerate liberal activity.
They could also try helping actual trafficked women, or the children of women in difficult situations, but never mind reality.
Anti-abortion blogger Jill Stanek defended the tactics: "What Lila and her team do is no different than what MSM investigative teams or Ashton Kutcher do." We'll leave it at that.
The point here is not one manager in Central New Jersey out of many, many efforts to entrap. The point is that this is a prong in an overall effort to strip Planned Parenthood of funding for sex education and contraception services, a legislative priority for House Republicans. Lila Rose herself has said her goal is to "take down" Planned Parenthood. In her own words at the Value Voters Summit last fall:
"We will work to de-fund them in every state wherever it is possible, to de-license them and to expose them. The other part of it, too, is to create controversy within the organization, keep them on their toes," she said. "We need to help them feel that fear."
The real fear is that distorting tactics and elaborate setups will have an impact on the legislative process and the real-life needs of women for safe access to health care.
Update: Politico has more on the coordinated campaign against Planned Parenthood.
Group Releases Hidden Tapes Of Planned Parenthood [NYT]
The Weird, Failed Planned Parenthood 'Sting' [Salon]
"Sex Traffickers" Target Planned Parenthood in Possible Live Action Films Hoax [RH Reality Check]
Central Jersey Planned Parenthood Fires Worker After Release Of Undercover Video [Star Ledger]
Related: Fox Nation, Right-Wing Blogs Seize On Heavily Edited Anti-Abortion Video To Smear Planned Parenthood [Media Matters]
Planned Parenthood Involved In Sex Trafficking Coverups [Jill Stanek]