Washington Times Pushes Falsehood That Planned Parenthood Didn't Report Possible Sex Trafficking


A March 2 Washington Times op-ed accused Planned Parenthood of "not fulfill[ing] their obligation to report to authorities these potential cases of child abuse" shown in Live Action's bogus Planned Parenthood stings. In fact, before any of the hoax videos were released, Planned Parenthood contacted the FBI to report the possibility that sex trafficking was occurring.

Wagner Falsely Accuses Planned Parenthood Of Not "Report[ing]" Potential Child Sex Trafficking

Wagner: Planned Parenthood "Facilitate[s]" Child Abuse And Does Not "Fulfill Their Obligation To Report" Abuse. In a March 2 Washington Times op-ed, Steve Wagner, president of a non-profit that combats human trafficking, stated of Planned Parenthood's health care professionals:

[The Live Action videos] show health care professionals, employed by a national organization receiving taxpayer funds, who not only do not fulfill their obligation to report to authorities these potential cases of child abuse, but actually are willing to facilitate that abuse.

It is hard to imagine conditions more conducive to the widespread sexual exploitation of American children than those in which health care professionals are willfully ignorant of the sex trafficking in front of their eyes.[The Washington Times, 2/2/11]

Wagner Cites Discredited Live Action Videos As Proof Of Sex Trafficking Cover-Up. In the same op-ed, Wagner cites the pro-life organization Live Action, headed up by 22-year-old Lila Rose, who last month organized a "sting operation" of Planned Parenthood locations in various states. Although the videos were discredited, Wagner stated, "These videos raise this five-alarm question: If we are just now learning that Planned Parenthood is willing to help actors portraying a sex-trafficking pimp and a prostituted juvenile, isn't it likely that actual sex traffickers have been using Planned Parenthood clinics for years?" [The Washington Times, 2/2/11]

Wagner: "Are The Police Called To Investigate... Felony Sexual Abuse Of A Minor? Tragically, No." Wagner also falsely claimed that the authorities were not called to investigate suspicious activities at Planned Parenthood, writing:

Is this pimp sent away by indignant health care providers - or better, are the police called to investigate these evident cases of felony sexual abuse of a minor? Tragically, no: In each instance, clinic staff members readily describe how they can help facilitate the continued exploitation of his victims. Planned Parenthood fired the employee shown in the first video from New Jersey and dismissed the incident as an aberration. But the same essential conversation has now been repeated at multiple sites. The employee in the second video from Virginia was described as reacting "professionally" for providing the pimp with the same helpful information. [The Washington Times, 2/2/11]

In Fact, Planned Parenthood Contacted Authorities About Potential Child Sex Trafficking Ring

Live Action's Sting Operation Videos Have Been Widely Discredited. Live Action's videos have been widely discredited, due largely to the fact that the vast majority of the videos showed no wrongdoing, and videos were selectively edited. Planned Parenthood fired the one employee shown to be acting improperly in the videos upon reviewing the full version of the footage. [Media Matters, 2/4/11, 2/4/11]

Planned Parenthood Informed Federal Authorities Of Potential Sex Trafficking Well Before Videos Were Released. On January 24, Planned Parenthood released a statement saying that it had notified "FBI investigators and local authorities" the previous week of a "potential multistate sex trafficking ring." From the statement:

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 [sic] 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.[Media Matters, 2/4/11; Planned Parenthood, 1/24/11, emphasis in original]

All Planned Parenthood Employees Acted Appropriately But One--And She Was Fired

Planned Parenthood's Schear: Employees In New York and Virginia "Responded Professionally To Questions, Discussed These Encounters With Management, And Provided A Report For The FBI." From a February 8 statement released by Stuart Schear, Planned Parenthood's Vice President for Communications:

Unlike other publicized tapes, the hoax 'patients' in New York were not able to get beyond the reception desk for a private consultation. 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. [Media Matters, 2/22/11; PlannedParenthood.com, 2/8/11]

Virginia Tapes Also Showed Planned Parenthood Acting Appropriately. Tapes released from Virginia do not include any advice from the Planned Parenthood employees on how the fake pimp could help his business. Furthermore, in one of the videos, an employee at a Planned Parenthood in Falls Church tells the fake pimp that clinics report incidents of suspected statutory rape. [Media Matters, 2/4/11, 2/22/11]

ABC: Worker At Virginia Clinic "Appears To Act Professionally And Appropriately." In a February 4 report, ABC News stated:

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. [Media Matters, 2/22/11; ABC News, 2/4/11]

Planned Parenthood Was "Shocked" By Video, Said Employee Was "Behaving In a Repugnant Manner" And Fired Her. Following a review of the full footage of the first Live Action video, Planned Parenthood of New Jersey fired Woodruff on February 1. As The Washington Post reported the following day:

The Planned Parenthood employee caught on tape giving inappropriate advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute has been fired, the organization announced Wednesday.

The video, taped as part of an undercover sting by an antiabortion group, showed a clinic manager in New Jersey apparently advising the pair on how to obtain services for illegal immigrant prostitutes and sex workers as young as 14.

"We 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," Phyllis Kinsler, chief of Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, said in a statement. "The employee in the video was immediately suspended from her duties this morning and was terminated this evening."

The statement was dated Tuesday but released to The Washington Post on Wednesday. [The Washington Post, 2/2/11]

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Health Care, Reproductive Rights
The Washington Times
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