On Tuesday, anti-abortion activist Lila Rose’s group Live Action released a highly edited “undercover sting” video that claims Planned Parenthood is facilitating gender selective abortions.
Live Action claims U.S. census data and national vital statistics illustrate sex-selection is a growing problem in the United States but MediaMatters points out Centers for Disease Control data from 2008 that says 91.4% of abortions were performed before the 13th week of pregnancy, before gender is identifiable.
The following is a statement by Akiba Solomon, Colorlines.com’s gender reporter and columnist:
This sneak attack brought to you by Live Action’s Lila Rose (the female James O’Keefe) dovetails with tomorrow’s House vote on HR3451, the so-called Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA). To understand the timing of this video, lets examine the bill.
HR3451 claims to address the rising “sex-selection industry” and cites gender-based abortion tourism by “citizens of other countries.” As evidence of the “growing threat” of sex-selective abortion, the bill also cites a study by Columbia University economists who analyzed 2000 census data for U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents. Because sons outnumbered daughters, the economists concluded that their mothers must have practiced sex-selective abortion. This evidence is thin as hell, but PRENDA authors claim that “it strongly suggests that some Americans are exercising sex-selection abortion practices within the United States consistent with discriminatory practices common to their country of origin, or the country to which they trace their ancestry.”
Taken together, the bill and video are part of the same old right wing attempt to criminalize abortion under the mantle of equal rights and stoke white population anxiety. Instead of using the black genocide trope, PRENDA employs Yellow Peril dog whistles. The video supports this race-baiting legislation.
Live Action and PRENDA supporters are concern trolls. If they were, in fact, concerned about the lives of girls, they would focus on policies that support, say, living wages, jobs, affordable health care, quality public education and safety from gender-based violence rather than ginned up threats of sex-selective abortion.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood responded to Live Action’s latest attack:
A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman told The Huffington Post on Tuesday the staffer in the video “did not follow our protocol” for dealing with “a highly unusual patient scenario.”
“Planned Parenthood insists on the highest quality patient care, and if we ever become aware of a staff member not meeting these high standards we take swift action,” she said in a written statement. “Within three days of this patient interaction, the staff member’s employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining in managing unusual patient encounters. Today opponents of Planned Parenthood are promoting an edited video of that hoax patient encounter.”
This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
Visit Colorlines.com/akiba-solomon to read more about race, gender and the assaults on women’s reproductive healthcare and rights.