Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lila Rose's Video Is Part of a Long-Running Campaign to De-fund Planned Parenthood

(Flickr/Pro-Life Unity)

Lila Rose is a 22-year-old planned anti-choice activist for the group Live Action, and she's been getting much attention for some recent videos that supposedly "expose" Planned Parenthood as an organization that will do nothing to stop human trafficking (presumably because they're so busy forcing abortions on women).

This particular anti-choice attack starts with a post on Big Government, Andrew Breitbart's most prominent site that has a history of posting videos that allege wrongdoing by progressive organizations but usually end up proven false, in which Rose posted a heavily edited video in which "undercover investigators" dressed up as a prostitute and a pimp (sound familiar?) enter a Planned Parenthood facility and ask for advice on sexual health. The implication of Rose's video is that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization that will help others in the exploitation of women. But after Rose's story broke, it was revealed that Planned Parenthood had a record of reporting the suspected traffickers to the FBI, which Rose's video alleges never happened.

As Jason Linkins writes:
Planned Parenthood may have a single staffer whose actions need to be called into question. And so, that staffer is being called to accounts. Other than that, Planned Parenthood is an organization that, if it catches a whiff of some illegal activity, gets the FBI involved as quickly as possible, even when they suspect that they are being subjected to a hoax.
Planned Parenthood released a statement that said, "Phyllis Kinsler, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey (PPCNJ), has stated 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.’"

But what is important to understand is that Rose's video is part of a longstanding effort by anti-choice activists to defund Planned Parenthood. Because Planned Parenthood is the most well-known name among women for family planning and abortion services, anti-choice activists figure that shutting down the organization will somehow stop abortions (it won't).

And what's so horrifying about this strategy is that it has been reasonably effective. Planned Parenthood has been pushing to increase Title X family planning funding. But though President Barack Obama's 2011 budget includes an increase of $19.2 million in family planning funding, "funding has not kept pace with inflation, and more than 17 million women are in need of publicly funded family planning services," a Planned Parenthood statement on the proposed 2010 budget reads.

But what anti-choicers like Rose may not realize is that their biggest enemy, Planned Parenthood, exists largely due to the effects of some of the policies for which they advocate. As anti-choicers pass legislation that further cripples regular doctors from providing abortion and other family planning services (as well as adds stigma and threats to abortion providers [PDF]), Planned Parenthood becomes what many women think of as the sole resource for family planning -- and often basic health care.

For many women, Planned Parenthood may be the only place they can turn to for help with family planning and other forms of health care. According to a 2003 study, nearly 40 percent of women use a visit to the ob-gyn as their primary care. Nine percent listed no primary care physician. A survey conducted in November showed [PDF] that 71 percent of voters oppose cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Granted, Planned Parenthood isn't perfect -- such a large organization will inevitably have some bad actors, but for many women their local Planned Parenthood is their only option for accessing birth control, abortion, and basic health care.

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