Planned Parenthood under Fire after Release of Acorn-Like 'Pimp' Videos

By Jonsson, Patrik | The Christian Science Monitor, February 3, 2011 | Go to article overview

Planned Parenthood under Fire after Release of Acorn-Like 'Pimp' Videos


Jonsson, Patrik, The Christian Science Monitor


Antiabortion activists have released videos showing Planned Parenthood workers allegedly colluding with a man posing as a pimp to exploit underage sex workers. It is part of a broader campaign against Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of abortions.

An antiabortion activist group is targeting the federally funded Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a series of undercover videos showing clinic workers apparently colluding with a man posing as a pimp to cover up exploitation of 14- and 15-year-old immigrant sex workers.

The group, Live Action, is following in the footsteps of James O'Keefe, the conservative activist who used similar undercover videos - also using a "pimp" scenario - to expose corruption inside Acorn, an advocacy group for the poor. Acorn lost its federal funding after the scandal and is now essentially defunct.

Run by O'Keefe protegee Lila Rose, Live Action is attempting to do the same thing to Planned Parenthood, which offers abortion as part of comprehensive reproductive-health services primarily to poor women and receives $363 million from federal, state, and local governments, according to a company spokesman. The organization performs about 300,000 abortions every year according to its annual reports, making it the largest abortion provider in the US, though federal mandates prevent it from using taxpayer dollars on abortions.

Planned Parenthood is a more respected and established institution than Acorn, putting it in a better position to stave off the defunding campaign and limit public relations damage from the videos, says Nancy Maveety, an abortion-policy expert at Tulane University in New Orleans.

But already, the videos have spawned an "Expose Planned Parenthood" campaign among antiabortion groups, and with Republicans now holding the House, Planned Parenthood critics could find an ear on Capitol Hill.

The videos

One Live Action video, from a Planned Parenthood in Perth Amboy, N.J., shows a worker identified as Amy Woodruff advising a "pimp" on how he can get abortion services for 14- and 15-year-old sex workers without notifying authorities. A second from Richmond, Va., shows a worker explaining a "judicial bypass" to a request from the "pimp" to keep the young girls from getting parental consent for an abortion.

Responding to the New Jersey video, which was released earlier, Planned Parenthood executives said they were "profoundly shocked," adding that the worker's comments were "inconsistent with our standards of care." Planned Parenthood has fired the worker depicted in the New Jersey video, which was filmed in January.

Meanwhile, state investigators in New Jersey and Virginia are looking into whether the Planned Parenthood workers' advice violated state laws.

Planned Parenthood has long been the target of antiabortion groups, who allege that it pushes its abortion services on young women and fails to report statutory rape crimes against underage girls - a charge the organization denies.

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