February 2, 2011 — A coalition of antiabortion-rights groups on Wednesday launched an "aggressive campaign aiming to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding" through a new website, "Expose Planned Parenthood," Politico reports. The group is led by Susan B. Anthony List and Live Action and also includes Concerned Women for America, Americans United for Life, 40 Days for Life, Students for Life, the Family Research Council and New Jersey Right to Life. The coalition's website has an "action center" where antiabortion supporters can send emails to their members of Congress asking them to support a bill (HR 217) introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) intended to strip Planned Parenthood of its Title X funding.
Many Planned Parenthood clinics receive federal funding under the Title X Family Planning program, which was enacted in 1970 to help provide family planning and reproductive health services to low-income women, including contraceptive counseling and supplies, pelvic and breast exams, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling. No Title X funds can be used for abortion services.
The website's launch comes one week before the House Judiciary Committee constitution subcommittee is scheduled to hold hearings on a Republican-backed bill (HR 3) seeking to permanently prohibit federal funding for abortion care. "I'm surprised, given that the number one issue right now is jobs, that the Republican leadership would make an extreme position like [H.R. 3] one of their top three priorities of the session," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who co-chairs the House Pro-Choice Caucus, said, adding, "American voters … [are] not focused on abortion, they're focused on how to get jobs" (Kliff, Politico, 2/2).
Group Launches Sting Against Planned Parenthood
Live Action, one of the groups leading the coalition to defund Planned Parenthood, on Tuesday released an undercover video aimed at discrediting Planned Parenthood for allegedly advising girls as young as 14 to lie about their age when seeking abortion care and other reproductive health services, the Washington Post reports. Antiabortion-rights advocates say the video will bolster their calls for an end to federal funding for the group, the Post reports. The video shows an employee at a New Jersey Planned Parenthood clinic advising two hired actors posing as a pimp and prostitute on ways to get abortions for prostitutes, illegal immigrants and girls as young as 14. After the incident shown in the video, the clinic staff contacted local authorities because of concerns about potential sex trafficking.
At least 12 clinics in six states received visits in January by men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking, according to Planned Parenthood. Last month, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder notifying him of the strange visits to the clinics and the group's suspicion that they "may be a hoax," the Post reports (Somashekhar, Washington Post, 2/1). The FBI has launched an investigation into the issue, according to Politico (Politico, 2/2).
Live Action President Lila Rose previously worked with James O'Keefe to secretly film operations at ACORN, an organization that provided housing assistance to low-income people. O'Keefe's video spurred controversy in 2009 over an alleged prostitution scandal at ACORN and that eventually led to the organization declaring bankruptcy last year (Washington Post, 2/1).
"What appears on edited tapes made public today is not consistent with Planned Parenthood's practices, and is under review," Planned Parenthood Vice President of Communications Stuart Schear said, adding that "the behavior of our employee, as portrayed on the video, if accurate," violated clinic policies and that "appropriate action is being taken." He also said that the organization is "committed as ever to meeting the reproductive health needs of women in every community" (Eckholm, New York Times, 2/1).