NEW YORK – An anti-abortion group Tuesday released undercover video taken in its latest attempt to discredit an organization that provides abortions — footage of operatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking health services at a New Jersey clinic.
The group releasing the video, Live Action, said it depicted a Planned Parenthood clinic employee offering to help cover up a sex ring so that its prostitutes could receive health services.
Planned Parenthood said it had promptly notified law enforcement authorities after the visit, but it also announced late Tuesday that it had fired the clinic employee for violating some of the organization's policies.
Planned Parenthood had proactively revealed the broad outlines of the new undercover operation last week, reporting that at least 12 of its clinics across the country had been visited by men claiming to be sex-traffickers.
The organization, which is the leading U.S. provider of abortions, asked federal authorities to investigate and said it had identified a man involved in the visits as linked to Live Action.
On Tuesday, Live Action released a video that it said was taken Jan. 13 at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
In the video, a woman identified as the clinic manager converses with a man and a woman posing as sex traffickers regarding their interest in accessing contraception, abortions and sexually transmitted-disease testing for underage prostitutes.
As depicted in the video, the clinic manager advises that the underage girls could lie about their age to lessen the chance of triggering an investigation once they sought health services.
"For the most part, we want as little information as possible," the employee says, according to the video.
The video also depicts the employee suggesting that prostitutes could get cheaper contraception by claiming they were students.
"Yeah, just kind of play along that they're students — we want to make it look as legit as possible," the woman identified as the clinic manager says.
Live Action said it was making available both edited and unedited versions of the video.
"This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of the young girls it claims to serve," said Lila Rose, president of Live Action. She called for federal and state investigations of Planned Parenthood practices, and urged Congress to cut off federal family-planning grants to the organization.
Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow, said Dow's office is "looking into the allegations."
Responding to the video release, Planned Parenthood issued a statement detailing its efforts to notify state and federal authorities after the recent clinic visits. It said the FBI had been collecting evidence from Planned Parenthood employees and clinics, and reviewing photos of at least one of the persons claiming to be a trafficker.
"Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of care, and safeguards the trusted relationship we have with patients, families and communities," the statement said. "What appears on edited tapes made public today is not consistent with Planned Parenthood's practices, and is under review."
Phyllis Kinsler, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey, said in a statement issued late Tuesday that she and her colleagues were "profoundly shocked when we viewed the videotape released this morning, which depicted an employee of one of our health centers behaving in a repugnant manner that is inconsistent with our standards of care and is completely unacceptable."
"We have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior, and the employee in the video was immediately suspended from her duties this morning and was terminated this evening," Kinsler said. "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."
Lila Rose, in a telephone interview, declined to say whether Live Action would be releasing videos from any of the other clinics that Planned Parenthood says were visited between Jan. 11-15 by men posing as sex traffickers.
"We'll let you know if we have more to share," she said.
Rose, 22, began infiltrating abortion clinics as a college student in 2006.
After forming Live Action, she gained prominence with a series of undercover videos in which she posed as a girl in her early teens who had been impregnated by an older man. The aim was to portray Planned Parenthood staff as willing to ignore laws that required the reporting of cases of suspected statutory rape.
Associated Press writer Beth deFalco in Trenton, New Jersey, contributed to this report.