Planned Parenthood Says Abortion Foes Used Fake Website to Gather Women's Personal Information

PHOTO: Offices of Planned Parenthood are seen on in Burbank, Calif. April 8, 2011
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Planned Parenthood is accusing the anti-abortion group Live Action of creating a fraudulent website purporting to offer late-term abortion services for "VIP women," in order to collect confidential medical information.

According to Planned Parenthood, a woman posing as a potential donor arranged meetings with Planned Parenthood staffers in Washington earlier this month and then asked politically-pointed questions about federal funding for abortions and late-term abortions.

"Very quickly the questions she was asking and the website she had for her medical clinic and other information caused us to suspect that she was engaged in a very elaborate hoax, and indeed that is the case," said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of Planned Parenthood.

The woman, who said her name was Wendy Reed, claimed she worked at a women's health clinic in Los Angeles and produced a business card with the website privatewomenscare.org listed on it, Ferrero said.

The website purported to represent a Los Angeles women's health clinic that offered abortions to "VIP women in the Los Angeles area," including late-term abortions coupled with spa treatments.

The website is no longer live. A Planned Parenthood employee said that the site was taken down Monday, Oct. 15, after the story of the alleged hoax was broken by the Huffington Post.

Planned Parenthood said it took screenshots of the website before it was pulled down. The screenshots show a "contact" form on which women can submit information through the website.

It is not known how Live Action may have used any information collected through the site. Phone calls placed by ABC News to a phone number on the website were not returned.

After asking for a second meeting with Wendy Reed, Planned Parenthood said it had a security guard ask her for identification. She produced a shopping club membership card that read Wendy Wilmowski, who Planned Parenthood says is a real estate agent in Maryland.

Wendy Wilmowski did not return calls from ABC News for comment.

Live Action, which calls itself a "new media movement for life," released a statement this morning criticizing Planned Parenthood but not denying any of its accusations.

"Live Action's investigative work exposes the violent agenda which kills the most defenseless among us, hurts women and girls, and undermine (sic) human dignity," the statement read. "If Planned Parenthood was suspicious of Live Action as they claim and stand by everything they said in recent encounters, they should have filmed the encounters themselves and release (sic) them publicly."

Live Action has secretly filmed encounters with Planned Parenthood staff in the past, editing them into movies for its website.

Kate Bryan, spokeswoman for Live Action, refused to speak on the phone with ABC News about the accusations. She asked that questions be sent to her by email.

On Thursday, one week after the woman believed to be Wilmowski met with Planned Parenthood staffers in Washington, Planned Parenthood organizers sent a letter to the California Attorney General's office asking that Live Action be investigated for its fake medical health website.

"One of the things we did was reached out immediately to the California state A.G. to alert them about this website because we're concerned there may be women out there giving confidential medical information out on the website, or delaying care based on information on the website," Ferrero said.

"California has some of the strictest consumer protection laws on issues just like this, so we've asked the state A.G. out there to open up an official investigation," he said.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said they had received the letter from Planned Parenthood and were reviewing it.

"The real shame is that this does nothing to help women get the health care they need," Ferrero said. "This is just dirty tricks in the closing weeks of an election, where the stakes on women's health are extremely high. We look at this as, these are the kind of dirty tricks you have to do when you can't win elections based on your ideas."

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