In the wake of several videos showing Planned Parenthood staff apparently agreeing to aid and abet child sex traffickers, Democrats on Capitol Hill are scrambling to either defend the abortion provider, like New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, or give advice.
Congressman John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, who is the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and now the committee’s ranking member, told me he wants Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the United States, to “clean up their act.”
Listen to my interview with Rep. Conyers here.
A staffer for Mr. Conyers was quick to tell me that Planned Parenthood already began to take the steps necessary to ensure that the activity seen on the videos released by the pro-life organization, Live Action, would not happen again.
The New York Times reports that Planned Parenthood will be retraining its staff: (bolding is mine)
Reacting to the release of videotapes in which its staff members advise an apparent sex trafficker, Planned Parenthood said Monday that it would retrain thousands of staff members across the country on its rules for reporting possible dangers to minors, and would automatically fire anyone who violated them.
All employees who have contact with the public will attend special training sessions, tailored to local laws, in coming weeks, said Stuart Schear, vice president for communications of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“We’re doing this to reassure the public that we take these reporting requirements seriously,” Mr. Schear said.
With the announcement, Planned Parenthood hoped to blunt the public impact of what it called a misleading string of covertly taped videos being released by Live Action, an anti-abortion group. On the videotapes, Planned Parenthood employees are heard telling a man who says he runs a “sex business” how to get medical care and abortions for under-age prostitutes.
When the retraining is completed in April, “termination of employment is the only possible action” when staff members do not report potential abuses of minors, the federation said in a statement.
However, Planned Parenthood and its supporters remain on the defensive and are accusatory towards the video creators, Live Action. Many will ask why the abortion provider is re-training its staff in the legal area of minors and sex trafficking as a result of an investigation and sting operation from a pro-life activist group, but Planned Parenthood will charge that the videos were “doctored.” It should be noted that concerns regarding underage individuals approaching Planned Parenthood clinics is not new and was usually blown off by pro-choice activists as a myth.
The fight over access to Planned Parenthood medical records likely contributed to pro-life groups change of strategy recently with their use of both hidden video and internet promotion.
In 2005, for example, The Indianapolis Star reported that then state attorney general Steve Carter demanded to see medical records of 73 low-income patients from Planned Parenthood of Indiana for an investigation regarding Planned Parenthood’s involvement in “reporting cases of children who are having sex before they turn 14.” The article reads: (all bolding is mine)
Carter, in a statement, said he’s using the powers of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate whether Planned Parenthood’s clinics are following the law by reporting cases of children who are having sex before they turn 14. In Indiana, sexually active children under that age are considered to be victims of rape or molestation.
Carter said his office is “obligated under federal and state statutes to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect by Medicaid providers, which include hospitals, nursing homes and other medical clinics that receive Medicaid reimbursement from the state.”
Planned Parenthood Chief Executive Officer Betty Cockrum said Carter’s investigation is an “unprecedented fishing expedition.” She said Planned Parenthood personnel follow the law and report patients younger than 14 to child protection services for further review.
Department of Child Services Director James Payne did not return a call seeking comment, nor did a spokeswoman for the state Family and Social Services Administration.
Carter’s investigation and Planned Parenthood’s response push Indiana into the middle of a developing national debate over government access to reproductive health records.
Earlier on Tuesday at a Judiciary Committee press conference of House Democratic members, Congressman Nadler described to me the undercover videos as an “attack on Planned Parenthood.”
“Now, the fact that an organization of I don’t know how many thousands of employees and hundreds of clinics around the country — you can find someone…some employee who doesn’t respond properly to this even though in most cases, in almost all cases, I think, this was promptly reported to the police,” he said. “They don’t show you that in the video.”