Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider, has fired a New Jersey clinic manager seen in an undercover video coaching a pimp and an underage prostitute on how to cover up their illicit business. The video was released Tuesday by the anti-abortion group Live Action.
"We have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior, and the employee in the video was immediately suspended from her duties … and was terminated …," said Phyllis Kinsler, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey, in a statement late Tuesday night.
Activists behind the sting, conducted on Jan. 13, claimed victory Wednesday, saying the firing is an acknowledgement of negligence.
Planned Parenthood has said the staged scenario involving a man and woman posing as sex traffickers was intended to embarrass, threaten and discredit the organization, and that superiors immediately notified authorities of both the alleged crime and the possibility it was all a sham.
But Tuesday was the first time the behavior of the clinic manager, in a private meeting with prospective clients, was revealed to Planned Parenthood directors and the public.
The undercover actors approached the clinic without an appointment to inquire about testing for sexually transmitted diseases, abortions and access to contraception, Live Action said. They openly stated involvement in "sex work" that employed young, undocumented immigrant girls.
"The only thing that you do have to be careful is, if they are a minor, we are obligated if we hear any certain information to kind of report," the manager said in the video. "So as long as they just lie and say, 'Oh he's 15, 16.' You know, as long as they don't say '14' and as long as it's not too much of an age gap then we just kind of like play it stup-- ..."
Live Action founder Lila Rose, a former associate of controversial conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe, said the group has conducted several stings at Planned Parenthood clinics and plans to release more evidence soon that the chain of clinics "is willing to aid and abet sexual exploitation of minors and young women."
"As our research and evidence will show, this is not only a problem for one clinic in New Jersey -- it is much broader and more endemic," she said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood Manager Could Face ChargesNew Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow has asked the state Division of Criminal Justice to investigate whether the manager should be charged with a crime in the incident. "At first glance, I find these allegations to be very disturbing," Dow said in a statement.
While condemning the manager's actions, Planned Parenthood has said that the orchestrated effort to use undercover tactics to discredit the entire organization's work is a "dirty tricks campaign" that must be condemned.
"Falsely claiming sex trafficking to health professionals to advance a political agenda is an astoundingly cynical form of political activity," said spokesman Stuart Schear in a statement Tuesday.
Schear said that the organization pieced together a pattern of at least 11 similar sting incidents in six states that occurred over five days in early January. Officials reported the incidents to Attorney General Eric Holder on Jan. 18.
"These multi-state visits ... may be a hoax," the group's president Cecile Richards wrote in letter to Holder. "In the past, Planned Parenthood affiliates have been approached by a small, organized group of people, opposed to our mission, who have misrepresented their circumstances to gain access to our health centers. ... This may be happening once again. If so, this kind of activity should be firmly condemned."
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, of which the New Jersey clinic is part, was formally created in the 1940s as a network of health centers to provide women with greater access to birth control consulting, sexually transmitted disease testing, cancer screenings and abortions. There are currently more than 820 centers across the U.S.
"We are fully committed to delivering high-quality reproductive health care to the women of our communities, complying with all laws, and upholding the highest ethical standards," said Kinsler.