Undercover anti-choicers use sex-selective abortion in attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood

It seems that anti-choice zealot Lila Rose and her team at Live Action may be at it again. You’ll no doubt remember that last year the conservative “sting” operation “uncovered” the horrifying fact that Planned Parenthood provides health information and services to sex trafficking victims. Now a string of similar incidents suggests the focus of Live Action’s next video may be sex-selective abortion. The Huffington Post report:

According to Planned Parenthood spokesperson Chloe Cooney, clinics in at least 11 states have reported two dozen or more “hoax visits” over the past several weeks, in which a woman walks into a clinic, claims to be pregnant and asks a particular pattern of provocative questions about sex-selective abortions, such as how soon she can find out the gender of the fetus, by what means and whether she can schedule an abortion if she’s having a girl.

Although Live Action says it “does not comment on any investigations until after public release,” Planned Parenthood isn’t waiting until the inevitably highly-edited “gotcha” video hits the internet to set the record straight. (That’s the thing about Live Action’s videos–they’re so predictable at this point, they can almost be debunked in advance.)

At RH Reality Check, Planned Parenthood’s Leslie Kantor and Dr. Carolyn Westhoff describe the organization’s position on sex-selective abortion:

Gender bias is contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country. Planned Parenthood opposes racism and sexism in all forms, and we work to advance equity and human rights in the delivery of health care. Planned Parenthood condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias, and urges leaders to challenge the underlying conditions that lead to these beliefs and practices, including addressing the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote gender bias and lead some to value one gender over the other.Recent attempts to restrict or deny access to safe abortion under the guise of preventing gender bias is harmful to women’s health, counter to a human rights agenda, and primarily a political tactic of groups who work to make abortion illegal. Planned Parenthood opposes legislation that intrudes on the doctor/patient relationship by requiring doctors to become investigators and patients their suspects, and that strips nonjudgmental, high-quality care from women in need.

The world’s leading women’s health and rights organizations, including the World Health Organization, do not believe that curtailing access to abortion services is a legitimate means of addressing sex selection, and are clear that gender bias can only be resolved by addressing the underlying conditions that lead to it. And we agree. We support efforts that ensure girls and women have access to economic opportunity, including fair wages, basic health care, political participation, education, and a life free of violence and discrimination. Planned Parenthood works to ensure women and their families have access to high-quality nonjudgmental health services free of coercion, supported by information and counseling.

In other words, Planned Parenthood is against sex-selection abortion, but they’re not about to give a woman the third degree about exactly why she’s choosing to end her pregnancy. (Planned Parenthood tends to leave the biased, judgmental counseling to crisis pregnancy centers, since they’ve clearly got it covered so well.) They won’t deny an abortion based on the patient’s reasons for wanting one, except in Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois, where sex-selection abortion is prohibited by law.

As we’ve seen in other parts of the world, efforts to combat sex-selective abortion can often end up curtailing access to abortion for all women. But in this case, of course, that’s the sole and entire point. Lila Rose and her crew may be focusing on sex-selective abortion this time, but all they’ve ever wanted is an end to all abortion everywhere. As Mara Hvistendahl wrote last year in response to Ross Douthat’s column about her book on sex-selective abortion, “Antiabortion advocates would have us believe that the practice of sex selection—a fundamentally sexist act—somehow justifies further curtailing women’s rights.” It doesn’t.

Sadly, Rose seems to have learned that some politicians will be only too happy to latch on to her videos, no matter how thoroughly debunked they are, to bolster their own campaigns against Planned Parenthood.

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 Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, 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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