Last week, over a period of five days, at least 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in 6 states were visited by people claiming to be involved in sex trafficking rings involving minors and illegal immigrants. After the unusual visits, the clinics notified their national office, who, despite suspicion that the visits were a possible hoax performed by opponents of abortion trying to discredit Planned Parenthood, reported the possibility of a multistate sex trafficking ring involving underage girls to the FBI. Planned Parenthood released a statement on January 24 discussing the incidents, saying:
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. […] 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.
On Tuesday, more than a week after reporting the suspicious activity, PPFA’s hoax suspicions proved to be correct when the anti-abortion group Live Action released a video produced by its founder and president, 22-year-old Lila Rose (a former associate of James O’Keefe, the right-wing conservative in charge of creating videos which led to the disbanding of ACORN in 2009). The heavily edited video shows an encounter between a staffer of the Perth Amboy, NJ, Planned Parenthood clinic and two Live Action members posing as a sex trafficker and a 14-year-old prostitute. After viewing the tape, Planned Parenthood displayed their zero tolerance policy by firing the staffer for her behavior.
The video, which hopes to discredit Planned Parenthood, coincides with the announcement of Live Action’s new campaign entitled “Expose Planned Parenthood,” which hopes to promote a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would cut more than $75 million in federal money allotted yearly for family planning services to Planned Parenthood affiliates. In a December interview with the Washington Post, Live Action’s Rose stated her goal was to “unnerve Planned Parenthood employees and eventually put them out of business.”
Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women and men in over 820 health centers across the country. According to PPFA, “Abortion accounts for only 3 percent of the organization’s health services and that the federal money under attack goes toward family planning and preventative health care for women.” Without the help of federal money to support Planned Parenthood services, millions of women (especially low-income women) across the country would face difficulties in obtaining quality reproductive care, STD testing, birth control, and information and education on sex.
The Women’s Law Project stands with Planned Parenthood because of its long history of providing compassionate, quality health care services to women and men from all walks of life. You can sign a petition to stand alongside Planned Parenthood here.