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Anti-Choice 'Secret Hoax' Infiltrators Target Planned Parenthood

Another Tactic in the 'Wars Over Safe Abortion Care and Women's Rights'

Common Dreams staff

Planned Parenthood supporters (Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

In recent weeks anti-abortion groups have been conducting a 'secret, nationwide hoax campaign' at Planned Parenthood locations around the country, 'in an attempt to undermine women’s access to services,' according to Planned Parenthood.

The healthcare provider believes that infiltrators are posing as clients -- inquiring about sex-selection abortions and other information from the organization in an attempt to discredit the organization.

"For years opponents of reproductive health and rights have used secret videotaping tactics with fictitious patient scenarios and selective editing to promote falsehoods about Planned Parenthood’s mission, services, and policies. Recently, one group has escalated these hoax visits in many states, apparently using secret recorders while inquiring about sex selection abortions. We anticipate that this group, likely in coordination with a broad range of anti-choice leaders, will soon launch a propaganda campaign with the goal of discrediting Planned Parenthood, and, ultimately, furthering legislation that blocks access to basic reproductive health care, including birth control," writes Leslie Kantor and Dr. Carolyn Westhoff at Planned Parenthood.

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Leslie Kantor and Dr. Carolyn Westhoff / RH Reality Check: New Secret Hoax Campaign Another Tactic in the Wars Over Safe Abortion Care and Women's Rights

We can expect this propaganda campaign to further escalate the political battles over access to health care, rather than focus on the best ways to help women and their families get the care they need.

As a nonprofit health care provider with nearly 800 health centers, Planned Parenthood provides access to professional, nonjudgmental, affordable reproductive health care, ensuring nearly three million patients receive preventive and lifesaving care every year. Without Planned Parenthood, many women would have nowhere else to turn for breast and cervical cancer screening, well woman exams, birth control, STD testing and treatment, sex education, and pregnancy options.

As a women’s rights advocate for nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood finds the concept of sex selection deeply unsettling. Planned Parenthood does not offer sex determination services; our ultrasound services are limited to medical purposes. [...]

Recent attempts to restrict or deny access to safe abortion under the guise of preventing gender bias is harmful to women’s health, counter to a human rights agenda, and primarily a political tactic of groups who work to make abortion illegal. Planned Parenthood opposes legislation that intrudes on the doctor/patient relationship by requiring doctors to become investigators and patients their suspects, and that strips nonjudgmental, high-quality care from women in need.

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The Guardian/UK: Planned Parenthood 'targeted' by anti-abortionists

A series of suspicious incidents at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country has led the group to believe they have been targeted in an undercover sting operation by anti-abortionists.

Clinics for the healthcare provider have reported an escalation in so-called "hoax visits", in which female clients ask leading questions about sex selection abortions, in interviews they believe are being secretly recorded in a ploy to discredit the organization.

The increase in the suspicious incidences at clinics has led to concern at the organization that it is part of a national propaganda campaign against the group. [...]

Activist group Live Action has in the past paid actors to walk into Planned Parenthood clinics and act out various controversial scenarios in "fishing" expeditions, to try to catch on tape the group's advisers doing something illegal or immoral.

In February, the Huffington Post reported that Live Action heavily edited the videos they took of Planned Parenthood clinics to falsely imply that the group is complicit in sex trafficking.

Live Action did not immediately respond to the Guardian's request for comment.

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