Deseret News: Planned Parenthood video sting gains attention where it counts — on Capitol Hill

This article originally appeared on on February 10, 2011.


Planned Parenthood video sting gains attention where it counts — on Capitol Hill

By Jackie Hicken

In an online sting reminiscent of the 2009 videos that brought down ACORN, seven new videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood managers giving advice to people posing as a “pimp” and a “prostitute” are causing problems for the organization.

The seventh video, filmed in Washington, D.C., was released today. The Susan B. Anthony List also hosted a news conference on Capitol Hill with Lila Rose, the founder of the pro-life group Live Action, and seven members of Congress.

Rose told The Christian Science Monitor that the seven videos show a “widespread, institutionalized and systemic” covering up of abuse of young women.

“What you see on these tapes is Planned Parenthood workers more than eager to work with traffickers to find ways to get them special deals, how to work the system, how to ensure nobody asks questions and nobody knows anything,” The Christian Science Monitor quotes Rose as saying. “What you’re seeing is the aiding and abetting of human trafficking, which is a federal crime.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rose is calling for federal and state investigations of Planned Parenthood practices, and urged Congress to cut off federal family-planning grants to the organization.

The first of the videos, released on Feb. 1, was shot in January at a clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J. In the full, 22-minute video, a clinic manager counsels the “pimp” and “prostitute” on how to manage 14- and 15-year-old girls engaged in prostitution.

The advice ranges from STD testing and abortions, to how to lie about their ages and the ages of their sexual partners, how to find abortions at a different clinic with fewer protocols, how to get cheaper birth control and how to get illegal immigrants tested.

She also offers to help streamline the process of getting exams, birth control and abortion, stating, “So the whole thing is, like, with me we already know. I see you. We already know we’re gonna kind of alter the story and kind see what we can do to kinda tweak the information.”

After telling the pair that girls could not be sexually active for two weeks after having an abortion, she advised them to use the girls to make money by showing them from the “waist up,” and having them “just be that extra action walking by.”

The Washington Post reported on Feb. 2 that the clinic manager was fired after the video was released.

“We were profoundly shocked when we viewed the videotape released this morning, which depicted an employee of one of our health centers behaving in a repugnant manner that is inconsistent with our standards of care and is completely unacceptable,” Phyllis Kinsler, chief of Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, said in a written statement.

Rose told National Review that the scenario of a pimp and prostitute running a sex trafficking ring was an “obvious and a bold one.”

“We tried to make it easy for Planned Parenthood to do the right thing,” she said.

In the second video, released Feb. 3, the “pimp” and “prostitute” visit a Planned Parenthood clinic in Richmond, Va. There, the pair is given advice regarding “judicial bypass,” which would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to get abortions without the consent of a legal guardian. They are also given advice on getting abortions in other states with “looser laws.”

According to Yahoo News, the video and its soundtrack were given to law enforcement officials, and Live Action asked state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate the clinic. On Sunday, Cuccinelli told Fox News he plans to take a look at Planned Parenthood.

Nearly an hour of footage from visits to clinics in Falls Church, Charlottesville and Roanoke, all in Virginia, has also been released. The latest footage — this time from a clinic in the Bronx — was released Tuesday. In each of the videos, the Planned Parenthood staff is informed that the “pimp” is involved in sex work and manages young girls in the country illegally.

Planned Parenthood, which is the country’s leading provider of abortions, countered the videos, stating that they had followed the law by informing federal authorities of a potential multistate sex trafficking ring after receiving visits to Planned Parenthood health centers in six states.

A letter sent by Planned Parenthood to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says, “We believe these incidents should be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and if appropriate following that investigation, prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”

In a Planned Parenthood news release, Stuart Schear, PPFA vice president for communications, stated, “If a multistate sex trafficking operation is in place, those responsible must be pursued to stop the exploitation of girls and young women. If these visits are part of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign, they must be condemned. Falsely claiming sex trafficking to health professionals to advance a political agenda is an astoundingly cynical form of political activity.”

Although Planned Parenthood called the videos “clearly doctored” and “not accurate,” The New York Times reports that Planned Parenthood has initiated a retraining program for employees to ensure reporting of abuse.

According to The Atlantic, Rose responded to Planned Parenthood, stating, “We have made full, unedited footage available from each clinic we’ve highlighted, and it is clear that Planned Parenthood staff are more than willing to aid and abet a self-identified sex trafficker with the exploitation of underage girls. Planned Parenthood’s latest version of events is the most absurd yet. After announcing they will retrain their entire staff, Planned Parenthood then claims the footage is somehow doctored. They can’t have it both ways, and their five different versions of events betray they know that they’re guilty.”

Despite the release of the videos and Planned Parenthood’s rapid response, CBS News aired its first story on the subject on Tuesday — six full days after the first video was released. According to the conservative site, NBC and ABC have yet to cover the story.

“The same gaggle of broadcast TV watchdogs which has mustered endless outrage over the notion that the Catholic Church would fail to alert authorities about sexual abuse of minors is utterly uninterested in the sexual abuse of minors when someone more pleasing to secular progressives — like that abortion factory Planned Parenthood — is caught on camera,” NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell wrote on Tuesday.

David Weigel, a Slate reporter, wrote that the story “fizzled” because of lessons liberals learned during the ACORN scandal. Coverage of the videos, he wrote, has focused more on Live Action’s Lila Rose and less on the video’s content.

“There are plenty of reasons for this,” Weigel wrote. “Media Matters and other liberal groups pounced as soon as the videos went up … within 72 hours, the group put together a conference call for Planned Parenthood leaders to speak out about Rose and a joint letter to members of Congress from 26 progressive groups.”

Weigel interviewed Andrew Breitbart, whose sites hosted the 2009 ACORN tapes and the Live Action tapes, about the lack of traditional media response.

“We live in two media Americas,” Breitbart told Weigel. “Those not in the emerging and developing right media camp are inventing new ways to circumvent the liberal media’s stranglehold on the national political narrative. Don’t count Lila and Live Action out yet. They’ve got more videos and in more relevant media markets.”

Even without major broadcast outlets, the videos have elicited responses on the pro-life and pro-choice sides. On Feb. 4, 27 progressive groups, including the NAACP and the Sierra Club, signed a letter to Congress calling for politicians to protect funding for Planned Parenthood.

“Right-wing groups are once again attempting to destroy an organization dedicated to providing crucial primary care services to Americans that need them most,” the letter states, according to Politico reporter Kate Nocera. “Armed with heavily edited videos, countless lies and a shameless echo chamber that repeats unfounded accusations ad nauseam, they’ve now turned their sights to Planned Parenthood, which offers a range of important health and reproductive services.”

Planned Parenthood has also posted a letter asking people to “stand with Planned Parenthood,” against the “anti-choice fringe” who purportedly want to “make abortion illegal,” as well as “eliminate reproductive health care, family planning and sex education for millions.”

On the other side of the debate, pro-life groups like the Family Research Council and Americans United for Life are using the videos to urge Congress to pass legislation that would end the estimated $350 million in federal funding Planned Parenthood receives each year.

“Planned Parenthood is engaged in the exploitation of women, and these are not isolated incidents,” a letter sent to members of Congress on Tuesday states. “There are a multitude of examples of Planned Parenthood breaking the law throughout the years aside from these recent incidents including non-reporting of statutory rape and sexual abuse. This is an institutional crisis within Planned Parenthood.”

According to The Washington Post, federal funding of abortion was debated in the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday, with a hearing on the “Protect Life Act.”

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., also introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” on Jan. 3. Additionally, after the sixth Live Action video was released, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., renewed his call for Congress to deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood with the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.

On the state level, N.J. governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would fund Planned Parenthood, and a New Hampshire legislator has filed a bill to cut off state taxpayer funding as well.

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