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Did Conservative Sting Operatives Target Planned Parenthood—Again? | The Nation

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Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti

Feminism, sexuality & social justice. With a sense of humor.

Did Conservative Sting Operatives Target Planned Parenthood—Again?


A rally in support of Planned Parenthood, Thursday, April 7, 2011, on the National Mall in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

After a series of odd visits by patients asking questions about sex-selective abortions, Planned Parenthood has determined that their centers are likely the target of another undercover video “sting” operation.

In a post on RH Reality Check, Planned Parenthood’s Vice President of Education Leslie Kantor and Senior Medical Adviser Dr. Carolyn Westhoff wrote that they anticipate the group—presumably Live Action, which has targeted Planned Parenthood in the past—“likely in coordination with a broad range of anti-choice leaders, will soon launch a propaganda campaign with the goal of discrediting Planned Parenthood.”

According to the Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood clinics in at least eleven states over the last few weeks have been the target of “patients” coming in asking a series of questions about finding out the gender of their fetus, and indicating that they want to terminate the pregnancy if it’s a girl.

Westhoof and Kantor write, “From the questions that were repeatedly asked in these recent hoax visits, we expect that the materials eventually released will focus on Planned Parenthood's non-judgmental discussions with the various women who posed as possible patients.” Planned Parenthood’s policy—rightly—is that the reason why a woman chooses to get an abortion (outside of coercion) is really none of their business:

Planned Parenthood insists on the highest professional standards, which among other things means we offer nonjudgmental, confidential care in accordance with relevant laws. That doesn’t mean we always agree with the decisions made by people who seek our help, but it does mean that we realize that we can’t know all of the circumstances faced by any patient and that requiring women to justify the care they seek is a dangerous health care model for an organization.

Obviously Live Action—run by James O’Keefe protégé Lila Rose—will not see Planned Parenthood’s attempts to respect patient privacy in the same way. In the past, the group has used heavily edited videos to accuse Planned Parenthood of supporting sex trafficking. I’m quite sure that this latest round of videos will claim to show that Planned Parenthood doesn’t care about sex-selective abortions. The truth, however, is that they care about their patients.

Abortion providers must be nonjudgmental if women disclose why they’re choosing to have an abortion. Some of the main reasons women cite for seeking abortions are that they want to be a good parent in the future and concern for existing children. But no matter what the reason—even if it’s one that most would find reprehensible—it’s still a woman’s decision alone. Changing that standard is too slippery a slope. Planned Parenthood sticking to this incredibly important issue of privacy in their caretaking of patients isn’t controversial—it’s ethical.

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