Defend Planned Parenthood From ACORN-Like Attacks

In late January, a right-wing activist, faux journalist, named Lila Rose, released a series of videos designed to destroy Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s foremost providers of family planning to poor people. The method she used was similar to that employed by her friend James O’Keefe in his videos of various ACORN staffers released in September 2009. She had actors approach isolated staff memebers, describe themselves as involved in prostitution, and ask for advice.  Like ACORN, Planned Parenthood reported the visits to law enforcement. Hopefully, unlike ACORN (which I was General Counsel to when the doctored O’Keefe films came out) the progressive and liberal community will rally around Planned Parenthood.  Already bills have been introduced in the US House of Representative’s to end all federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

The two reports belwo were posted on the Media Matters website.

HOAX VIDEO EXPOSED: Planned Parenthood Already Reported "Sex Trafficking" To FBI

February 01, 2011 11:57

by Jeremy Schulman

 

Today, anti-abortion rights propagandist Lila Rose released her latest in a series of heavily edited videos seeking to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood engages in criminal activities. Rose’s organization, Live Action, claims their video exposes what they call "Planned Parenthood’s cover-up of child sex trafficking."

Except that isn’t what the video shows at all.

Rather, the Live Action video shows edited comments made by a single Planned Parenthood employee. Live Action has so far refused to publicly release the full video of the incident, instead posting what the organization itself admits is an "abridged 11-minute video." (Live Action claims they are "sending full footage" to law enforcement officials.) [UPDATE: Live Action subsequently released what they say is the full video.]
Is Live Action accurately portraying the Planned Parenthood employee’s statements and actions? It’s impossible to say for sure without the full video, but there is good reason for media to be skeptical. Lila Rose, after all, began infiltrating abortion clinics in collaboration with James O’Keefe — a convicted criminal who repeatedly lied about his heavily edited ACORN videos. Rose herself has a history of smearing the subjects of her videos.
But even if Live Action’s video doesn’t take the employee out of context, the incident obviously doesn’t show Planned Parenthood covering up child sex trafficking. That’s because Planned Parenthood has already reported the "potential sex trafficking" to law enforcement officials.
On January 24, Planned Parenthood released the following statement, titled "Planned Parenthood Informs Federal Authorities of Potential Sex Trafficking" [emphasis in original]:

Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) alerted federal authorities to a potential multistate sex trafficking ring.  Over a five day period, visitors to Planned Parenthood health centers in six states said they were seeking information from Planned Parenthood about health services Planned Parenthood could provide to underage girls who were part of a sex trafficking ring.  Subsequent to alerting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Planned Parenthood learned the identify of one of those involved and believes these visits are likely a hoax by opponents of legal abortion seeking to discredit Planned Parenthood, which delivers preventive health care and abortion services to three million women each year.

Men, sometimes accompanied by a woman, have visited at least 11 Planned Parenthood health centers in six states within a one-week time frame.  During their visits, they claimed to be involved in sex trafficking of teens, some of whom are in the United States illegally.  These men appeared at health centers without appointments and said that they were seeking health services for themselves, but they quickly turned the conversation to the sex ring they said they were managing. 

"When Planned Parenthood learns of an operation that exploits young women, we vigilantly work with law enforcement authorities to uncover and stop this abhorrent activity," said Stuart Schear, PPFA vice president for communications.  "Planned Parenthood’s top priority is the health and safety of our patients and the health and well-being of women and teens across the country, and we have been in contact with federal and local authorities to identify the persons involved in these visits."

One of the men involved in these visits has now been identified, and he appears to be associated with or influenced by Live Action, an anti-Planned Parenthood organization that uses surreptitious videotaping and manipulative editing for media and political campaigns.  The pattern of these visits and the highly unusual nature of the information being shared with staff lends credibility to the possibility that these multistate visits are part of this organization’s ongoing effort to "bring down" Planned Parenthood, a nearly 100-year-old organization with more than 800 health centers from coast to coast.  Live Action is associated with James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who was arrested for attempting to wiretap the offices of Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
In recent years Planned Parenthood has been the target of activists attempting to portray the organization negatively by secretly videotaping inside health centers and publicizing heavily edited versions of those tapes to the media.  Recent incidents are the first time that such visitors have told Planned Parenthood staff that they are involved in sex trafficking of minor girls.

"If a multistate sex trafficking operation is in place, those responsible must be pursued to stop the exploitation of girls and young women," said Schear.  "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."

All Planned Parenthood staff have been alerted to the suspicious visits, and Planned Parenthood is working with FBI investigators and local authorities.

Last week, the AP reported that "Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder summarizing the visits and requesting an FBI investigation. If the man’s assertions were true, she wrote, they would indicate possible violations of federal laws dealing with interstate sex trafficking of minors. … Schear said there had been some preliminary contacts with the FBI, which was asking for information from the clinics that were visited.
"
Planned Parenthood reported the potential sex trafficking to the Attorney General and the FBI. So clearly, Planned Parenthood wasn’t trying to cover anything up.

ABC: No Wrongdoing By Planned Parenthood Worker In Lila Rose’s Latest Video

February 03, 2011

by Shauna Theel

ABC reported on the latest video released by Lila Rose’s anti-abortion activist group Live Action, saying that "the Richmond clinic worker "appears to act professionally and appropriately, informing the couple of their legal rights to privacy under the law" and "the legal guidelines for a minor seeking an abortion."
From an article titled "Abortion Activists Attempt to Discredit Planned Parenthood with Second Video: Latest ‘Live Action’ Undercover Film Lacks Bombshell Quality of Earlier Release":

The new video was shot Jan. 12 and features the same staged scenario involving a man and woman posing as sex workers and inquiring about sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, birth control options and abortions for underage girls.
But 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.
"Our new video shows their Richmond clinic willing to aid and abet the sexual exploitation of minors and coaching a pimp about how girls as young as 14 — 15 could circumvent parental consent laws for secret abortions," said Live Action founder Lila Rose, a former associate of controversial conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe.
Rose has asked state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to investigate the centers to make sure they are compliant with state law. Cuccinelli’s office said it had not yet received the letter.
Many states, including Virginia, require medical professionals to report evidence of alleged sex crimes involving minors. Planned Parenthood said its Virginia clinic employee immediately did so in this case.