Ending the life of a baby girl or baby boy because of her or his sex is a violent act of discrimination. Indeed, recognition of sex-selection abortion as an acute form of discrimination spans both political parties and the spectrum of those who self-identify as pro-life or pro-choice.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated in August 2009: “[U]nfortunately with technology, parents are able to use sonograms to determine the sex of a baby, and to abort girl children simply because they’d rather have a boy.”[i]
Sex-selection abortion is a real war on women, literally ending the lives of millions of baby girls simply because they are female. Research documents that baby girls are the predominant targets of sex-selection abortions.[ii] Nicholas Eberstadt, of the American Enterprise Institute, notes that the numbers of these sex-selection abortions worldwide are staggering, “resulting in millions upon millions of new ‘missing baby girls’ each year.”[iii]
Contrary to what many believe, this discriminatory act takes place not just in China or India, but evidence suggests it does also happen in abortion clinics in America.[iv]
In May and June 2012, the investigatory group Live Action released an undercover video series called “Gendercide: Sex-Selection in America.”[v] The footage reveals Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation (NAF) clinics in five different states willing to facilitate and perform sex-selection abortions. In each video, a pregnant woman tells the clinic staff that she wants an abortion if her baby is a girl because she already has a daughter and now wants a son. The scenario tracks the pattern that researchers have documented for sex-selection abortions in America.[vi]
In the first “Gendercide” video, the advice given to the pregnant woman by a Planned Parenthood employee in Austin, Texas includes: “Just, you know, if it is a girl, then I would have just made it seem like it was a miscarriage or something like that” because “some things you probably can’t be too open because there are people out there that’ll place judgment, you know?”[vii]
The Planned Parenthood employee tells the pregnant woman that if the ultrasound determines her child is an unwanted girl, she can return to the clinic for an abortion. The Planned Parenthood employee then laughingly tells the woman, “So just continue and try again!”
Planned Parenthood’s official response was to call the video a “hoax.” Yet, Planned Parenthood in the same statement also assured the public that “the staff member’s employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining…”[viii]
Firing and re-training employees discredits the “nothing wrong happened here” message Planned Parenthood seeks to impart with its statement that the video reveals – not malfeasance by Planned Parenthood – but a “hoax” perpetrated by Live Action.
Planned Parenthood’s response also lacked any explanation of why Planned Parenthood fired its employee, or what Planned Parenthood’s “protocol” is, in which its employees are being “retrained.” Planned Parenthood only stated its policy in the most general of terms: “high standards.” Divulging these standards – and how they were violated – is a reasonable expectation of an organization collecting over a million dollars a day from America’s taxpayers.
Two days later, however, when Live Action released footage recorded at the Margaret Sanger clinic in New York City, Planned Parenthood recycled its “hoax” mantra, using the word four times in its official response.[ix] It again claimed that it imposes “extensive guidelines and training requirements,” and that the organization takes “swift action” when protocol is violated.
Planned Parenthood’s response, although again failing to share what its “protocol” entails, in effect admitted that affirming sex-selection abortions is in accord with its “extensive guidelines.”
Instead of firing the Margaret Sanger Clinic employee, who repeatedly assured a pregnant patient that a sex-selection abortion is “really your decision” (if that’s what “you feel is best” and “what you would prefer”), Planned Parenthood commended its employee’s “nonjudgmental, informative services.”[x]
At the time of publication, Planned Parenthood has failed to give any response to the videos Live Action recorded at its clinics in Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These videos again demonstrate Planned Parenthood’s willingness to participate in sex-selection abortions.
Footage taken at the Maui Planned Parenthood shows the Planned Parenthood employee affirming the decision to abort a baby girl because she is a girl, “It’s really up to the patient whether…I mean, everyone has their different reasons why they choose to have a termination… If that’s what you want to base your decision on, that’s really up to you.” The Planned Parenthood employee advises, “You may have to wait a little while, to get an ultrasound” to make sure it is a girl to abort.[xi]
The Planned Parenthood employee then admonishes anyone who would judge a sex-selection abortion, “This is your reason and this is your situation and they should be accommodating.” She confirms that Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, is accepting of any reason, including sex discrimination, for an abortion. “You can tell us anything and we would not blink an eye, because it’s up to you if you want it. This is your life and this is your situation.”[xii]
How is this direct quote a “hoax?”
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Without fail, Planned Parenthood and its defenders argue that “heavy editing” is the source of the abortion giant looking bad on camera and agreeing to facilitate or perform sex-selection abortions. However, until Planned Parenthood discloses what its “extensive guidelines” encompass, it appears that nothing in these videos violates Planned Parenthood’s “protocol.”
Moreover, there is no need to watch a Live Action video for proof that Planned Parenthood not only condones, but participates in, sex-selection abortions. Planned Parenthood admits as much itself.
Attempting to get ahead of the damaging exposé, Leslie Kantor, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) Vice President of Education, and Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, PPFA’s Senior Medical Advisor, opined before the release of the Live Action videos, “We expect that the materials eventually released will focus on Planned Parenthood’s non-judgmental discussions with the various women who posed as possible patients [seeking sex-selection abortions].”[xiii]
Employing the term “non-judgmental,” Ms. Kantor implies that Planned Parenthood’s conversations are innocuous or even praiseworthy. However, consider that “non-judgmental” is being applied to “discussions” about killing a baby girl because she is female and the true character of Planned Parenthood is revealed.
Planned Parenthood’s actions speak volumes more than the words of its press releases. By engaging in “non-judgmental discussions” about sex-selection abortions, as well as facilitating and performing sex-selection abortions, Planned Parenthood’s actions undermine its assertions that it “finds the concept of sex selection deeply unsettling” and that “gender bias is contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country.”[xiv]
Planned Parenthood’s participation in sex-selection abortions does not end with its “non-judgmental discussions.”
In opposition to a Missouri bill that would ban sex-selection abortions, Michelle Trupiano, Lobbyist and Public Policy Manager of Planned Parenthood of Missouri, testified that the organization “condemns” sex-selection abortions.[xv] However, when Representative Marsha Haefner (R) from St. Louis County asked Ms. Trupiano to answer whether Planned Parenthood would refuse to perform such abortions if asked by a patient, she dodged the question with political rhetoric. Three times she refused to answer the question, even when asked directly to give a “yes or no” response.
Conversely, the Huffington Post has answered the question, reporting multiple times that Planned Parenthood will perform abortions for any reason, including sex-selection, unless it is prohibited by law. Speaking with an unnamed PPFA spokeswoman after the release of the Live Action videos, the Huffington Post reported that Planned Parenthood’s policy to provide “high quality, nonjudgmental care” to anyone who comes to its clinics “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 exclude sex-selection abortions.”[xvi]
Planned Parenthood’s position, however, is incongruent with the vast majority of Americans who support making the practice of sex-selection abortions illegal. For example, a 2006 Zogby poll found that 86 percent of Americans supported laws banning sex-selection abortion,[xvii] receiving the highest percentage of agreement among any question asked in the poll.[xviii] Notably, prohibiting sex-selection abortions garnered significant support even among those who believe there is a constitutionally protected “right” to abortion.[xix]
Coming to Planned Parenthood’s defense, Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post renounced “spotlighting” the issue of sex-selection abortions as a “common tactic that the anti-abortion community has been using lately to turn the ‘war on women’ around on Planned Parenthood…”[xx] In reality, it demonstrates an ugly truth that Planned Parenthood wants to hide: Planned Parenthood chooses profit over the lives of baby girls. That is a real “war on women.”
[i] Mark Landler, Saving the World’s Women, A New Gender Agenda, The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 18, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/magazine/23clinton-t.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp# (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[ii] Nicholas Eberstadt, The Global War Against Baby Girls, The New Atlantis, 3 (2011). “All around the world, the victims of [sex-selection abortion] are overwhelmingly female—in fact, almost universally female.”
[iii] Nicholas Eberstadt, The Global War Against Baby Girls, The New Atlantis, 3 (2011).
[iv] D. Almond and L. Edlund, Son-biased sex rations in the 2000 United States Census, 115 Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. 12, 5681 (Apr. 15, 2008.) (Documenting male-biased sex ratio among U.S. born children of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian parents in the 2000 U.S. Census: “We interpret the found deviation in favor of sons to be evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.”)
[vi] D. Almond and L. Edlund, Son-biased sex rations in the 2000 United States Census, 115 Proc. Nat’l Acad. Sci. 12, 5681 (Apr. 15, 2008.) “Using the 2000 U.S. Census, we find that the sex ratio of the oldest child to be normal, but that of subsequent children to be heavily male if there was no previous son.”
[vii] Full video and transcript are available at Sex-Selection in America Part 1, Protect Our Girls, A Project of Live Action, http://protectourgirls.com/transcript-of-video/ (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[viii] Planned Parenthood Statement on Hoax Campaign (May 29, 2012), Planned Parenthood Fed’n Am., http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-statement-hoax-campaign-39383.htm (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[ix]Planned Parenthood Statement on Hoax Campaign (May 31, 2012), Planned Parenthood Fed’n Am., http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-statement-hoax-campaign-39408.htm (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[x] Full video and transcript are available at Sex-Selection in America Part 2, Protect Our Girls, A Project of Live Action, http://protectourgirls.com/gendercide-in-america-undercover-in-nyc/ (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xi] Id. While the Planned Parenthood employee initially appears shocked when the pregnant woman discloses that she is choosing to terminate her pregnancy because of the results of an “Intelligender” test (which she describes as a test she purchased at the drugstore that determines the sex of the baby in early pregnancy), it becomes quickly apparent that the Planned Parenthood employee’s “shock” is only because she questions the accuracy of such an over-the-counter test, not the fact that the abortion is being solicited solely based on the baby’s sex.
[xii] Full video available at Sex-Selection in America Part 4, Protect Our Girls, A Project of Live Action, http://protectourgirls.com/sex-selection-in-america-part-4-undercover-in-hawaii/ (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xiii] Leslie Kantor and Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, Secret Hoax Campaign is Another Abortion Wars Tactic, RH Reality Check, Apr. 23, 2012, available at http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/04/23/secret-hoax-campaign-is-another-abortion-wars-tactic (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xiv] Planned Parenthood Statement on Hoax Campaign (May 29, 2012), Planned Parenthood Fed’n Am., http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-statement-hoax-campaign-39383.htm (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xv] Planned Parenthood routinely opposes efforts to ban sex-selection. See e.g. Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida, Inc., Choice Notes, Winter 2012, available at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ppswcf/files/Southwest%20and%20Central%20Florida/Choice_Notes_Winter_2012.pdf (last visited Jun. 25, 2012). Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, summarizing its opposition to a bill banning sex and race selection abortions, announced, “While Planned Parenthood condemns racism and sexism in all forms, legislation that overrides the doctor-patient relationship is not in the interest of Florida women.”
[xvi] Laura Bassett, Planned Parenthood Sting Caught on Video, Released by Anti-Abortion Activists, Huffington Post, May 29, 2012, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/planned-parenthood-video_n_1552672.html (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xvii] Zogby/Associated Television News Poll Reveals: Abortion Tough Issue for Hillary Clinton & ’06 Congressional Democrats, Associated Television News, Mar. 22, 2006 available at http://www2.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/03-22-2006/0004325089&EDATE (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
[xviii] The Zogby poll also aptly demonstrates that support for making sex-selection illegal exists across the political spectrum — among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
[xix] Zogby/Associated Television News Poll Reveals: Abortion Tough Issue for Hillary Clinton & ’06 Congressional Democrats, Associated Television News, Mar. 22, 2006 available at http://www2.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/03-22-2006/0004325089&EDATE (last visited Jun. 25, 2012). Although 46 percent of those polled answered that they “agreed” to “that a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is guaranteed by the US Constitution,” strong support for restrictions on abortion demonstrate that the perceived “right” does not include abortion for any and all circumstances.
[xx] Laura Bassett, Planned Parenthood Worried It’s The Target Of New Undercover Sting, Huffington Post, May 23, 2012, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/planned-parenthood-live-action_n_1446527.html (last visited Jun. 25, 2012).
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