In 2009, a tape edited to make it appear that voter registration organization ACORN was advising people on how launder to money was released, eventually bringing the nonprofit down. This month, in a sting operation perpetrated by conservative group Live Action, similar tapes are emerging that attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood. Fortunately, these tapes haven’t destroyed the massive pro-choice group, and it turns out the story behind them may be filled with lies, as the ACORN tapes were.
In a series of videos shot in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York, hired actors pretending to be pimps running underage prostitutes went into Planned Parenthood offices and asked how to obtain services for underage girls. In some cases, the actors were given advice that went well beyond the scope of what Planned Parenthood should be doing legally. In those cases, according to the organization, the workers involved have been reprimanded (and, in one case, fired). But in other cases, Planned Parenthood, which delivers family-planning services and basic medical care to American women, says they did exactly what they should have done under the circumstances.
“Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of care, and safeguards the trusted relationship we have with patients, families, and communities,” the organization said in response to the attempted sting by Live Action.
A Planned Parenthood in New York City even immediately notified the FBI when Live Action’s plants left the premises: "Unlike other publicized tapes, the hoax patients in New York were not able to get beyond the reception desk for private consultation," said a statement from Planned Parenthood of New York City. "Like other encounters that have been recently publicized in Virginia, our staff responded professionally to questions, discussed these encounters with management, and provided a report to the FBI."
Planned Parenthood said it had already reported a string of suspicious visits that occurred during the same week in January in at least 12 centers in six states to local and national authorities and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood has said it’s already retraining staffers who interact with clients in order to ensure they’re aware of proper legal procedures. In the future, it says, it will be better prepared for scams like Live Action’s. For its part, Live Action, which has the support of the right-wing media, says it will release more footage soon. Let’s hope it continues to be ineffective.
For more on the campaign against Planned Parenthood, see this New York Times op-ed.