A group of anti-abortion activists that Planned Parenthood has suspected is targeting it in a hoax investigation released the first of a series of videos on Tuesday that purportedly shows Planned Parenthood encouraging the selective abortions of girls in the United States.
The activist group, Live Action, sent pregnant actors posing as patients to Planned Parenthood clinics across the country and had them ask a certain pattern of questions about sex-selective abortions. The result of the undercover operation is a series of videos called "Gendercide: Sex-Selection in America," which Live Action says will expose the problem of gendercide in the United States and show how Planned Parenthood facilitates it.
The first video released on Tuesday shows a Planned Parenthood staffer at a clinic in Austin, Texas, answering an actor-patient’s questions about a sex-selective abortion. Suggesting that she wants to have an abortion if the fetus turns out to be a girl, the visitor asks the staffer how soon she can detect the gender with an ultrasound.
“The abortion covers you up until 23 weeks, and usually at 5 months is usually when they detect, you know, whether or not it’s a boy or a girl,” the Planned Parenthood staffer explains.
The staffer answers all of the woman’s questions honestly and makes it clear that Planned Parenthood will not deny the woman an abortion despite her reasons for wanting to have one. At the end, she directs the woman to an ob-gyn for an ultrasound and says, "Good luck, and I hope you do get your boy."
Live Action interprets this exchange as Planned Parenthood's “encouraging” the woman to have a late-term sex-selective abortion. “Planned Parenthood and their ruthless abortion-first mentality is the real ‘war on women,'” said Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, in a statement. “Sex-selective abortion is gender discrimination with lethal consequences for little girls.”
A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman told The Huffington Post on Tuesday the staffer in the video "did not follow our protocol" for dealing with "a highly unusual patient scenario."
"Planned Parenthood insists on the highest quality patient care, and if we ever become aware of a staff member not meeting these high standards we take swift action," she said in a written statement. "Within three days of this patient interaction, the staff member’s employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining in managing unusual patient encounters. Today opponents of Planned Parenthood are promoting an edited video of that hoax patient encounter."
This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
Sex-selective abortions are the latest target of anti-abortion activists whose goal is to make abortions illegal across the United States. Lawmakers at the state and federal level have also latched onto the issue by introducing legislation that criminalizes doctors who perform abortions because of the race or gender of the fetus. Opponents of such laws say they force doctors into the inappropriate position of investigating a woman's personal motivations for seeking an abortion. The House of Representatives will debate Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Ariz.) Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act on Wednesday, which would ban sex-selective abortions in the United States.
But it is unclear how often women in the States genuinely seek sex-selective abortions outside of Live Action stings. A new study by the Guttmacher Institute, a progressive reproductive-health research organization, finds that there is “some evidence -- although limited and inconclusive -- to suggest that the practice may occur among Asian communities in the United States.”
But the solution to that problem, some Asian women’s rights groups argue, is to address the root of son preference rather than to write laws prohibiting sex-selective abortions.
"If you've studied the issues and studied the problem of sex selection in a global context, you know that in order to tackle sex selection, you have to address the social and economic root causes of gender preference," Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, told The Huffington Post in April. "Abortion restrictions are a non-solution, and Planned Parenthood and others who have been providing necessary women's health care for gazillions of years are not the perpetuators of the war on women."
Watch the video below: