Today, anti-abortion rights propagandist Lila Rose released her latest in a series of heavily edited videos seeking to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood engages in criminal activities. Rose's organization, Live Action, claims their video exposes what they call "Planned Parenthood's cover-up of child sex trafficking."
Except that isn't what the video shows at all.
Rather, the Live Action video shows edited comments made by a single Planned Parenthood employee. Live Action has so far refused to publicly release the full video of the incident, instead posting what the organization itself admits is an "abridged 11-minute video." (Live Action claims they are "sending full footage" to law enforcement officials.) [UPDATE: Live Action subsequently released what they say is the full video.]
Is Live Action accurately portraying the Planned Parenthood employee's statements and actions? It's impossible to say for sure without the full video, but there is good reason for media to be skeptical. Lila Rose, after all, began infiltrating abortion clinics in collaboration with James O'Keefe -- a convicted criminal who repeatedly lied about his heavily edited ACORN videos. Rose herself has a history of smearing the subjects of her videos.
But even if Live Action's video doesn't take the employee out of context, the incident obviously doesn't show Planned Parenthood covering up child sex trafficking. That's because Planned Parenthood has already reported the "potential sex trafficking" to law enforcement officials.
On January 24, Planned Parenthood released the following statement, titled "Planned Parenthood Informs Federal Authorities of Potential Sex Trafficking" [emphasis in original]:
Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) alerted federal authorities to a potential multistate sex trafficking ring. Over a five day period, visitors to Planned Parenthood health centers in six states said they were seeking information from Planned Parenthood about health services Planned Parenthood could provide to underage girls who were part of a sex trafficking ring. Subsequent to alerting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Planned Parenthood learned the identify of one of those involved and believes these visits are likely a hoax by opponents of legal abortion seeking to discredit Planned Parenthood, which delivers preventive health care and abortion services to three million women each year.
Men, sometimes accompanied by a woman, have visited at least 11 Planned Parenthood health centers in six states within a one-week time frame. During their visits, they claimed to be involved in sex trafficking of teens, some of whom are in the United States illegally. These men appeared at health centers without appointments and said that they were seeking health services for themselves, but they quickly turned the conversation to the sex ring they said they were managing.
"When Planned Parenthood learns of an operation that exploits young women, we vigilantly work with law enforcement authorities to uncover and stop this abhorrent activity," said Stuart Schear, PPFA vice president for communications. "Planned Parenthood's top priority is the health and safety of our patients and the health and well-being of women and teens across the country, and we have been in contact with federal and local authorities to identify the persons involved in these visits."
One of the men involved in these visits has now been identified, and he appears to be associated with or influenced by Live Action, an anti-Planned Parenthood organization that uses surreptitious videotaping and manipulative editing for media and political campaigns. The pattern of these visits and the highly unusual nature of the information being shared with staff lends credibility to the possibility that these multistate visits are part of this organization's ongoing effort to "bring down" Planned Parenthood, a nearly 100-year-old organization with more than 800 health centers from coast to coast. Live Action is associated with James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who was arrested for attempting to wiretap the offices of Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
In recent years Planned Parenthood has been the target of activists attempting to portray the organization negatively by secretly videotaping inside health centers and publicizing heavily edited versions of those tapes to the media. Recent incidents are the first time that such visitors have told Planned Parenthood staff that they are involved in sex trafficking of minor girls.
"If a multistate sex trafficking operation is in place, those responsible must be pursued to stop the exploitation of girls and young women," said Schear. "If these visits are part of a 'dirty tricks' campaign, they must be condemned. Falsely claiming sex trafficking to health professionals to advance a political agenda is an astoundingly cynical form of political activity."
All Planned Parenthood staff have been alerted to the suspicious visits, and Planned Parenthood is working with FBI investigators and local authorities.
Last week, the AP reported that "Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder summarizing the visits and requesting an FBI investigation. If the man's assertions were true, she wrote, they would indicate possible violations of federal laws dealing with interstate sex trafficking of minors. ... Schear said there had been some preliminary contacts with the FBI, which was asking for information from the clinics that were visited."
Planned Parenthood reported the potential sex trafficking to the Attorney General and the FBI. So clearly, Planned Parenthood wasn't trying to cover anything up.