Planned Parenthood fires worker caught on video

By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2011; 3:32 PM

The Planned Parenthood employee caught on tape giving inappropriate advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute has been fired, the organization announced Wednesday.

The video, taped as part of an undercover sting by an antiabortion group, showed a clinic manager in New Jersey apparently advising the pair on how to obtain services for illegal immigrant prostitutes and sex workers as young as 14.

"We were profoundly shocked when we viewed the videotape released this 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, chief of Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, said in a statement. "The employee in the video was immediately suspended from her duties this morning and was terminated this evening."

The statement was dated Tuesday but released to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The video was shot as part of a years-long campaign by the group Live Action targeting Planned Parenthood because of its role as an abortion provider.

The Los Angeles-based group says it hired two actors to pose as a pimp and a prostitute seeking services at the New Jersey clinic and then secretly taped the footage with the employee, who also appears to suggest that some of the girls lie about their age when seeking services. The operation resembles one that helped take down a liberal anti-poverty group two years ago.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America officials say that the heavily edited video does not tell the whole story and that Live Action has for years tried unsuccessfully to smear its reputation with its undercover operations.

In a statement Tuesday, Planned Parenthood spokesman Stuart Schear said that immediately after the Jan. 13 visit, the clinic staff alerted the national organization and contacted local authorities about the possibility of a sex ring operating in the area.

Abortion foes said the release of the video Tuesday will bolster their calls to end federal funding to the abortion provider, a perennial demand. Planned Parenthood receives tens of millions of dollars each year from the federal government to provide non-abortion family planning services to low-income people.

At least 12 clinics in six states received visits in January by men claiming to be engaged in sex trafficking, according to Planned Parenthood. In each case, the clinic's staff notified federal and local authorities. Planned Parenthood also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Jan. 18 citing its concerns about sex trafficking and suggesting that the visits might be part of a hoax.

"The group that has undertaken this secret taping is on the record as saying its goal is to 'take down' Planned Parenthood over the next 10 years by creating 'controversy' in the organization and making Planned Parenthood 'not feel safe,' " Schear said Tuesday.

In 2009, conservative activist James O'Keefe and an associate posed as a pimp and a prostitute and secretly filmed their attempts to elicit damaging comments from workers with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which provided housing and other assistance to low-income people. It was the first of a series of controversies that led to the ACORN's bankruptcy last year.

Live Action President Lila Rose, 22, worked with O'Keefe on undercover operations at Planned Parenthood clinics four years ago, she said in an interview. Rose, an antiabortion activist who founded Live Action at age 15, said her group has not worked with O'Keefe for three years.

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