Poor Planned Parenthood. Even with unflagging support from the White House, lapdog allegiance from congressional Democrats and fawning coverage from most mainstream media outlets, America's largest abortion provider cannot help looking ridiculous.
The organization's latest public relations debacle began on May 29, when the youth-led, pro-life activist group Live Action released a video showing a Planned Parenthood staffer in Austin, Texas, aiding a patient's attempt to procure a sex-selective abortion. The staffer, confronted with a mock patient who states plainly and repeatedly that she wants to keep her unborn child only if that child is a boy, cheerily guides the patient through the steps necessary to determine the gender of her baby and abort if the baby turns out to be a girl. She even assures the patient that she can try again for a boy immediately after aborting her unwanted girl.
"Good luck," the Planned Parenthood staffer chirps, as the undercover actress heads for the door. "And I hope that you do get your boy!"
Leslie Kantor of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America responded to the embarrassing footage by releasing a statement saying that the staffer had ignored "our protocol" for addressing "a highly unusual patient scenario" and had been fired.
"Planned Parenthood condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias," Kantor said.
That statement might have put the controversy to rest had Live Action not released a second video two days later showing another such "highly unusual scenario" unfolding at another Planned Parenthood center. In that video, a mock patient meets with a social worker at the Margaret Sanger clinic in New York, telling the same story and receiving essentially the same response. The patient explains that she and her husband want to find out the gender of their unborn baby and abort if the baby is a girl. The social worker nods understandingly throughout the exchange, helpfully scheduling a tentative abortion in case an upcoming gender test confirms the couple's fears of conceiving a second daughter.
Several times in the videotaped conversation, the patient pointedly asks if anyone will judge her lethal bias for boys — a perfect opening to challenge that bias if ever there was one. Instead, the social worker repeats reassuring platitudes about a woman's right to choose abortion, regardless of the reason.
"Here at Planned Parenthood we believe that it's not up to us to decide what is a good or a bad reason for somebody to decide to terminate a pregnancy," she says.
Given that Planned Parenthood's initial response of "this never happens" would not wash twice in one week, Kantor opted for a 'shoot the messenger" retort to the second video. In a second statement, she blamed Live Action for a "heavily edited" video that failed to show the full context of the encounter, including the social worker's mention of adoption to the mock patient.
Unfortunately for Planned Parenthood, Live Action made the full video and its transcript available on its website, protectourgirls.com. The sum total of the Planned Parenthood staffer's adoption counseling is contained in this apologetic aside: "We're required to discuss all of a patient's options — is adoption something that you were interested in considering?"
The patient says no; the sex-selective abortion is scheduled; and that is that.
Luckily for Planned Parenthood, most major media outlets have ignored the Live Action exposé and its damning footage. But they could not ignore last week's Capitol Hill debate over a House bill that would have banned sex-selective abortion.
The Republican-sponsored Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or PRENDA, would seem to be a bipartisan slam dunk. It aims to stop a barbaric and misogynistic practice that is already banned even in abortion-friendly China, a practice that, according to a March 2006 Zogby International poll, nearly nine in 10 Americans agree should be illegal.
Yet the attempted ban on gendercide failed to pass the House. Democrats, with the backing of President Barack Obama, blocked the bill in the name of defending "women's rights." Apparently, allowing the abortion of baby girls simply because they are girls is not sexist. It's proof of girl power.
As for those pro-life legislators trying to defend baby girls from sex-selective abortions, well, as Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee put it, "The next act will be dragging women out of patient rooms into the streets and screaming over their bodies as they get dragged out of getting access to women's health care."
You read that right: Support for a ban on sex-selective abortion is merely the opening salvo of a violent — all together now — "war on women." Such hyperbolic claims would be funny, if only the topic were less serious than gendercide.
There was an upside for pro-life Americans in last week's legislative loss. Like the stomach-churning footage in the Live Action videos, the House debate forced Planned Parenthood and its allies to reveal the extremes to which they will go in protecting abortion on demand — including the unabashed defense of an abortion regime that countenances the killing of baby girls simply because they are girls.
Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of "Faith & Culture" on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.