Planned Parenthood Videos Are Shocking If You Dramatically Oversell Them

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 8 2011 11:36 AM

Planned Parenthood Videos Are Shocking If You Dramatically Oversell Them

I'm getting some healthy pushback to my story today about the lack of attention LiveAction is getting for its Planned Parentood videos, the ones that replay the James O'Keefe "pimp and prostitute" trick. Today, after all, was the release of a video recorded in New York, and LiveAction, through the public relations firm Shirley & Bannister, sends along the tape with quotes from prominent pro-life leaders. One from Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:

Each new tape reveals Planned Parenthood’s institutional complicity with sex abusers and human traffickers. Even their official response exposes their attitude toward sex abuse and trafficking: They call their shocking practice of aiding child sex traffickers "professional."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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This isn't really true. The LiveAction videos were recorded over a five-day period in the middle of January. Within 10 days of the stings, Planned Parenthood contacted the FBI to report that people had been coming to their offices and asking for advice about abortions for underaged girls who were part of a sex ring. "Institutional complicity" is a weasel word -- institutionally, the organization reports suspicious activity. Institutionally, staffers fail to get more details from people who claim to be committing crimes -- as long, we see from these tapes, as those people are just asking for information.

The New York video isn't as compelling as the packaging. Here it is:

What I notice is that the actors are rather guarded about what they're doing -- they describe it as "sex work" in quiet tones, doubtlessly because they are not getting far out of the reception room -- and try to get as much detail about non-abortion services as they can. This was what happened in Falls Church, too, where the "pimp" got confirmation that girls didn't need ID for non-abortion services, but "some things have to be reported" if an underaged girl is brought in and tries to get an abortion. This isn't "complicity with sex abusers." (That's a fun phrase, by the way -- what's a law that requires parental consent even for a woman raped by her father? Is that complicity with sex abuse?)

But we have to back up. The objection of some conservatives is not just to abortion -- it's to any family planning activity supported by taxpayers. Keep unspooling this and it's really not that compelling.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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