Jezebel, May 29, 2012 by Erin Gloria Ryan
A newly-released undercover sting video by the Top Secret Junior Adventurer Club known as Live Action shows a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas instructing an actor pretending to be a pregnant woman woman on how to obtain an abortion if she finds out that her fetus is female. The anti-abortion rights group, known for its dramatic black and white footage, sad piano music, and embarrassing hack job sting operations against abortion clinics, triumphantly claims that this video shows that Planned Parenthood supports sex-selective abortion, and They Must Be Stopped.
For all its pomp and reverence, Live Action isn’t particularly good at running sting operations that go undetected; back in April, Planned Parenthood caught on to this latest stunt and sent a warning to its affiliates. Live Action actors visited Planned Parenthood clinics in at least 11 states, each time pretending to be adamant about aborting their fetus if and only if the fetus turned out to be female.
This time around, Live Action captured footage of a counselor in Texas telling an actor pretending to want a sex-selective abortion that she wouldn’t be able to tell the sex of the fetus until around the 23rd week of pregnancy, and that if she did find out that it was a girl, she probably shouldn’t tell her doctor that her reason for aborting is the child’s sex. Then the actor said some things about how adamant she was about the baby being a boy, and the counselor said some things about how she wasn’t there to pass judgment, and then Live Action replayed the footage over and over again in black and white, sort of like what they do to denote evil tax-raisers and small business enemies in campaign ads. At the end of the packaged footage, an appeal for viewers to visit a website called ProtectOurGirls.com.
Planned Parenthood has responded to the footage by clarifying that sex-selective abortion is “contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country” and noted that the employee in the video had been recently hired and wasn’t following protocol. According to the family planning organization, within days of the incident, the employee was let go.
Lila Rose, Live Action’s leader who is terrified of sluts, told The Daily Caller that this is just a tiny thread in a giant fetus sweater that she’s about to unravel.
First of all, the statistics and studies indicate that we are adding to the growing problem across the world of sex-selective targeting of unborn girls for abortion. We are going to be demonstrating – starting with this video from Texas – that the abortion industry in the United States is aiding and abetting this horrific problem.
Sounds pretty legit, right? Except it appears that Rose performed a complicated and risky fact-selective abortion in making that statement — it’s pure, steaming bullshit.
Statistics do not indicate that the US has a problem with sex-selective abortions, nor do they indicate an increasing gender discrepancy in the American birth rate. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the sex ratio — the number of baby boys born per 1,000 baby girls — has actually been decreasing slightly but steadily over the last 30 years. In 1983, 1,052 boys were born for every 1,000 girls born in the US; in 2009, 1,048 boys were born for every 1,000 girls. This is only indicative of a “growing problem” if by “growing problem,” Rose means “growing anti-abortion rights talking point.”
Further, so few abortions in the US occur after the 20th week that even if every single one of them were the result of sex-selection, only 1.5% of pregnancy terminations would occur at a time when sex selection was even possible. Additionally, 77% of Americans surveyed think that sex selective abortion is wrong — they’re hardly clamoring to abort in the 23rd week because they want a Jr instead of an -ette.
And finally, as Planned Parenthood pointed out in its statement following the release of this video, even if sex-selective abortion were a problem in the US, interfering with women’s access to safe, legal abortion isn’t going to fix anything — leading health organizations “do not believe that curtailing access to abortion services is a legitimate means of addressing sex selection, and are clear that gender bias can only be resolved by addressing the underlying conditions that lead to it.”
I mentioned last week that the next stage in the evolution of anti-abortion rights law will be a wave of regulations that force a woman to divulge her motivation for terminating her pregnancy, and then judge whether or not those reasons were the “right” reasons. Live Action’s newest sting operation is a perfect example of attacking abortion rights and abortion access by painting an inaccurate and extreme picture of who has abortions and why. It also sets a dangerous precedent by dragging out into the open what motivates women to have abortions — which is no one’s fucking business but the woman’s. In fact, it’s the right to privacy that is the entire foundation of Roe v. Wade.
The release of Live Action’s footage conveniently corresponds with Congressional debate of PRENDA, or the PreNatal NonDiscrimination Act, which bans abortion on the basis of a fetus’s race or sex and allows a woman’s parents or husband to interfere with a woman’s choice by claiming as such. And while the facts and statistics point to the fact that race and sex selective abortion is a conservative fable drummed up to scare moderates into supporting abortion restrictions, people who see the Live Action clip likely won’t know that, the people who read the Fox News headlines about sex-selective abortion will think it’s a problem. It’s the world’s shittiest viral ad campaign.