Abortion Activists Attempt to Discredit Planned Parenthood with Second Video
Latest 'Live Action' Undercover Film Lacks Bombshell Quality of Earlier Release
By DEVIN DWYER
Feb. 4, 2011
The anti-abortion activist group Live Action has released its second undercover video in as many days purporting to reveal an "endemic problem" at the nation's Planned Parenthood clinics, which Live Action accuses of facilitating the sex trafficking of minors.
The latest video, shot in Richmond, Va., follows Tuesday's release of footage from inside a New Jersey clinic, where an employee is seen coaching a pimp and underage prostitute on how to cover up their illicit business.
Planned Parenthood fired the employee Tuesday night, hours after viewing the tape, and said that supervisors had immediately notified law enforcement of the alleged sex trafficking ring weeks earlier, after the encounter occurred.
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.
"The Planned Parenthood staff member reacted professionally to a highly unusual person posing as a patient," said spokesman Stuart Schear in a statement. "After the encounter, the staff member immediately notified her supervisor, who subsequently notified members of Planned Parenthood's national security team, who are working with the FBI, which is investigating these visits."
Legal experts reached by ABC News also said the clinic worker's advice on how a minor could obtain an abortion without her parents' consent is consistent with state law.
"It would be ethically required of a health worker to notify a minor seeking an abortion of her right to a process known as 'judicial bypass,'" said Lois Shepherd, a lawyer and professor at the University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics. That process allows minors who may choose to do so to contact a judge for permission to receive an abortion instead of their parents.
"It's not just permissible under Virginia law, it's a clearly recognized constitutional right of minors to seek a judge's approval without their parents knowing," she said.
Group Seeks to Discredit Planned Parenthood
Rose said Wednesday that Live Action, a grassroots activist group made up of college-age students, has recently conducted several stings at Planned Parenthood clinics and plans to release more evidence of alleged misconduct soon.
"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, while condemning the New Jersey clinic manager's actions, has said that the orchestrated effort to use undercover tactics to discredit the entire organization's work is a "dirty tricks campaign."
"Falsely claiming sex trafficking to health professionals to advance a political agenda is an astoundingly cynical form of political activity," said 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 and Virginia clinics are part, was formally created in the 1940s as a network of health centers to provide women with greater access to birth control consulting, STD testing, cancer screenings and abortions. There are currently more than 820 centers across the U.S.