Anti-choice “sting” operation targets Planned Parenthood

PhotobucketIt seems Planned Parenthood has uncovered either a multi-state sex trafficking ring or the latest conservative undercover “sting” operation designed to catch clinic employees doing…something bad. Signs are pointing to the latter. The AP reports:

“Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees.

In each case, according to Planned Parenthood, the man sought to speak privately with a clinic employee and then requested information about health services for sex workers, including some who he said were minors and in the U.S. illegally.

Planned Parenthood’s vice president for communications, Stuart Schear, said the organization has requested an FBI probe of the man’s claims and has already fielded some initial FBI inquiries. However, Schear said Planned Parenthood’s own investigation indicates that the man has links with Live Action, an anti-abortion group that has conducted previous undercover projects aimed at discrediting the nation’s leading abortion provider.”

Live Action’s founder Lila Rose hasn’t claimed responsibility but said a video project targeting Planned Parenthood was in the works and that she wouldn’t comment “until we release the visual evidence.” Given that previous experience with Rose’s videos (and those of her former collaborator James O’Keefe of ACORN fame) suggests this “evidence” will be extremely deceptively edited, I won’t be taking it at face value.

But I am curious to see how they’ll even spin this one. What exactly is the “gotcha” here? What was this “sting” even trying to uncover? That Planned Parenthood clinics would fail to report evidence of sex trafficking of underage girls? Well, no luck there. And, honestly, I know that anti-choice activists don’t exactly have the highest opinion of Planned Parenthood employees, what with the whole baby-killer thing, but do they actually believe that Planned Parenthood would be so irresponsible and callous as to turn a blind-eye to evidence — however absurd and unlikely — of a multi-state sex trafficking ring of young girls?

So what then? Is the crime that Planned Parenthood workers didn’t just turn away the supposed pimp who was reportedly seeking information on health services for these girls? Is the damning evidence that clinic workers did their jobs as health care providers — and compassionate human beings — and actually provided that information? Apparently that idea is scandalous in some circles. Anti-choice blogger Jill Stanek writes:

“Imagine if workers at any of the 12 abortion mills PP claims Live Action punked indeed offered to help the trafficker get abortions, STD treatment, and/or contraceptives for his illegal, minor sex slaves.

Well, guess what, apparently they did.”

Oh shit. Just imagine! The pro-choice movement is really screwed now. God forbid Planned Parenthood provided health services and information to trafficked women and girls too. God forbid they offered medical care to an extremely underserved, marginalized population.

While Rose and Stanek’s only goal is, in Rose’s words, to “unnerve Planned Parenthood employees and eventually put them out of business,” Planned Parenthood works to meet the reproductive health needs of all women. And, as Jodi Jacobson notes at RH Reality Check, “Victims of sex trafficking, after all, also need sexual health services.” So I sure as hell hope Planned Parenthood offered them. Because the scandal would be if they didn’t.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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