Planned Parenthood video generates controversy (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The clinic manager at the center of this controversy, Amy Woodruff, has been fired. Planned Parenthood condemned the manager’s actions but also had harsh words for Live Action, the group that conducted the sting.


CBS News covers the controversy over the Planned Parenthood video released today showing a PP clinic manager referring a man posing as a pimp to an abortion clinic where underage abortions can be secured, and appearing to help the actors skirt the law.

An anti-abortion rights activist today released an edited undercover video she says exposes Planned Parenthood for “aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of underage girls” and “covering up sex abuse.”

The latest release follows similar undercover video releases from young conservative activists, most notably the James O’Keefe-led ACORN videos. And like those videos, which were later revealed to have been selectively edited, this one has immediately generated controversy.

The video is below. By the way, the Live Action group has no association with James O’Keefe. The unedited footage is here and here.

The video does not seem to be heavily edited, especially in crucial parts where the clinic manager refers the sex workers to Metropolitan Medical Association and where she advises the pimp how to get underage girls services without “getting anybody in trouble.”

Planned Parenthood has confirmed that Amy Woodruff is their employee, according to CBS News:

Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the action taken by the employee as portrayed in the new video “is not consistent with Planned Parenthood’s practices, and is under review.”

The CEO of Planned Parenthood New Jersey added that “the behavior of our employee, as portrayed on the video, if accurate, violates PPCNJ policies, as well as our core values of protecting the welfare of minors and complying with the law, and appropriate action is being taken.”

Woodruff certainly does seem to be operating in contrast to what she believes other staffers would do so I do not dismiss Planned Parenthood’s statement lightly. I will watch closely to what “appropriate action” PP takes.

Given that PP has acknowledged that this manager is one of their employees, I don’t see how supporters of PP can do anything but condemn the actions portrayed here. This incident, along with the clear lack of regulation of abortion clinics recently uncovered in PA and DE, makes a convincing case for more stringent oversight of abortion clinics. As noted in the Philadelphia grand jury report, legitimate operators will not mind this.

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  • David Blakeslee

    In Oregon, the state sends young adults into liquor stores to buy alcohol and into grocery stores to buy cigarettes posing as minors (with minor identification).

    A simple process to have the state regularly check such clinics.

  • There’s nothing wrong with what Planned Parenthood is doing here. It’s perfectly acceptable for them to cater these types of activities.The people at fault here are the “pimp” and the “hooker”. They’re attempting to hurt an organization that helps thousands of women a year. The media will expose them for the haters and racists they truly are.

  • stephen

    This constant assault on Planned Parenthood by the right is truly repulsive. Don’t teach children about sex, make it hard for them to get proper birth control, then when they get pregnant treat them like whores.

    From TPM:

    The video appears damning, but it’s also highly edited and you cannot see the man asking questions. Similar videos, including O’Keefe’s 2008 ACORN videos, eventually proved not to show any actual wrongdoing; they were edited to make it appear that way.

    Lila Rose, who posted the video, is an associate of Michael O’Keefe.

  • Debbie Thurman

    As David points out, if the states can’t regulate their abortion industries, someone will have to help them along. “Secret shoppers.”

    The media will expose them for the haters and racists they truly are.

    I take it that comment is really meant for PPFA and the late Margaret Sanger.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Stephen,

    You are simplifying the arguments of those you oppose. Creating a straw man.

  • stephen

    David. Nonsense.

  • stephen – NPR issued a correction regarding Lila Rose and O’Keefe saying they are not associated.

    Also, the PP folks fired the clinic manager saying she was wrong. The editing was minimal and the PP people admitted Woodruff was wrong.

    Whether PP should be opposed on other grounds is a matter of discussion but the facts surrounding the video are not as you portrayed them.

  • David Blakeslee

    From the above cited article:

    “We were profoundly shocked when we viewed the videotape released [Tuesday] morning, which depicted an employee of one of our health centers behaving in a repugnant manner that is inconsistent with our standards of care and is completely unacceptable,” Phyllis Kinsler, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central Jersey said in a statement released at 10:20 p.m.

    But then PP goes on the offensive in a very odd way:

    “If these visits are part of a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign, they must be condemned,” said Stuart Schear, a Planned Parenthood federation vice president. “Falsely claiming sex trafficking to health professionals to advance a political agenda is an astoundingly cynical form of political activity.”

    The next set of questions are about the training the PP provides for clinic managers. Government regulators need to assess the training process and whether it includes when and how to refer legal matters for the safety and protection of minors who are being sexually abused.

  • David Blakeslee

    …to advance a political agenda?


    …to expose negligent or endangering practices?

    That is called a public service.

  • Ann

    …to expose negligent or endangering practices?

    That is called a public service.

    And being responsible and ethical – regardless of political agenda, which has no place in a medical/counseling center.

  • Jayhuck

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand why this is disturbing, but at the same time you have to realize that you can find healthcare workers committing fraud and doing damage to patients in ALL segments of healthcare. NOt all the time of course, and regulation enforcement and reform need to be things we always strive for, but lets not pretend that abortion clinics are somehow immune from the same problems.

  • ken

    While I think abortion clinics should be monitored just as any other outpatient healthcare facility and, in general, I don’t have any problems with undercover operations, what live action is doing is nothing more than a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.

    How many of these under cover sex trafficking operations did they do? How many of the videos have they released? Only one as far as I can tell.

  • David Blakeslee

    Advocacy groups for PP just get goofier in their self-justification of PP and demonizing of those who exposed this substandard care:

    “Right-wing groups are once again attempting to destroy an organization dedicated to providing crucial primary care services to Americans that need them most. Armed with heavily edited videos, countless lies, and a shameless echo chamber that repeats unfounded accusations ad nauseam, they’ve now turned their sights to Planned Parenthood, which offers a range of important health and reproductive services,” the letter reads.

    Read more:

  • ken

    David Blakeslee# ~ Feb 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    “Advocacy groups for PP just get goofier in their self-justification of PP and demonizing of those who exposed this substandard care:”

    Where did Live Action show evidence of sub-standard care David (from Planned Parenthood)?