Planned Parenthood in Virginia has reportedly taken corrective action regarding an employee who encouraged an undercover investigator who said he may have an STD to donate blood.
During the video shoot Live Action conducted showing Planned Parenthood staffers helping alleged sexual traffickers get abortions and STD testing for the underage girls at the Roanoke, Virginia abortion facility, a staffer told the Live Action undercover agent to attempt to donate blood because he can get free testing.
David Schmidt, the research director for Live Action, says the advice is problematic because it “was not a mere hypothetical scenario involving a ‘fake patient.’ The employee actually said – unreservedly on her own initiative – that she has been ‘tell[ing] a lot of people’ who might have sexually transmitted diseases to do the same thing.”
After filing a complaint about Planned Parenthood in Roanoke with the Roanoke City Health Department, the health department told Live Action last week: “[Planned Parenthood] certainly appreciated being notified of that … and they said they had already been made aware of that and have instructed the staff member, and a corrective plan is in place with training. So they seem to be pretty on top of that issue.”
Schmidt said yesterday that Live Action is looking forward to hearing the details of Planned Parenthood’s “corrective plan” but added that Planned Parenthood has not yet returned a follow-up call placed last week.
He said Planned Parenthood’s initial response to the video was to condemn it.
“What was Planned Parenthood’s response to the video that showed one of their employees promoting this inappropriate and dishonest mechanism? Not a word was said about the questionable medical advice,” Schmidt said. “Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric about coaxing, hoaxing and fake patients infers that they think this is a game of cat-and-mouse rather than a serious wake-up call. Their preoccupation with dismissing Live Action as an extreme gadfly that can be outwitted might have been what resulted in them failing to address an important issue.”
“Common sense would dictate that this is not wise medical advice. But there are professional reasons why it is inappropriate counsel as well,” he said.
Schmidt said his organization heard from Ruth D. Sylvester, Director of Regulatory Services for America’s Blood, who was very concerned about what she saw in the video concerning the man with a potential STD donating blood.
“Donating blood is not an appropriate mechanism to obtain screening for sexually transmitted diseases or any other test result. Though donated blood is screened, and is safer than it has ever been, the hallmark of the system is the honesty of the donor in completing the donor history questionnaire,” Sylvester said. “Additionally, in the eyes of the Food and Drug Administration, these donors would not be considered “volunteer” because they are donating for the purposes of obtaining something in return, hence, they would have a reason to be less than truthful.”
The conversation with the Planned Parenthood staffer in the video takes place as follows:
Undercover Reporter as Pimp: Hi, um, let me see, is there someone I could talk to about testing?
Undercover Reporter as Pimp: Ok, so I’m kind of experiencing some slight burning sensation….. is that, I don’t think that’s normal, right?
Planned Parenthood: No. It’s not normal.
Planned Parenthood: Well, uh *laughs*, see I tell a lot of people, I say if you know, if you’re not quite sure, you’re not having any symptoms, but for peace of mind, go donate blood – cause if you go donate blood, they have to test for everything anyway. And you know, a lot of plasma places, they’ll test you for free.
Undercover Reporter as Pimp: That’s good information.
Planned Parenthood: And they pay you for your plasma. You know what I mean? So, there’s several different ways around it without having to spend a whole lot of money.
Schmidt says blood centers say “that it was very bad advice and that if people think they have an STD or other condition that they should address that condition before attempting to donate blood. I was also told that if one attempts to donate blood and is found to be ineligible through testing, they will only tell you that you are ineligible. They will not tell you the details of your positive result so that blood donation centers don’t get abused as disease testing centers.”
“It appears that they have had to put in policy to prevent the very thing that Planned Parenthood is encouraging. This direction from Planned Parenthood staff is making it harder for blood donation centers to collect good blood and save lives,’ Schmidt added.
He concludes: “So Planned Parenthood, is directing people who might have STDs to blood donation centers as an organizational policy? You have watched the video and your public statement about it was that your staff acted “professionally”. I can only assume that means that the advice given in this video is within policy and institutionally acceptable. I think it is becoming clear that Planned Parenthood doesn’t have isolated problems but rather institutional ones and this is the latest shocking example.”