Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood’s Continued Failure to Report Evidence of Child-Sex Trafficking

Live Action video (screengrab via YouTube)
The abortion giant appears more concerned with its image than with protecting its clients.

A new investigation conducted by the pro-life organization Live Action has revealed that Planned Parenthood failed to disclose suspected child-sex trafficking to authorities and did not follow through on promises to train staff members in properly reporting instances of such abuse.

In 2011, a Live Action undercover investigation gathered evidence of eight Planned Parenthood staffers in seven abortion clinics who appeared willing to aid and abet the trafficking of minors. Posing as child-sex traffickers, Live Action investigators visited Planned Parenthood facilities in New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., inquiring about obtaining abortions, contraception, and STI tests for underage girls.

The investigation footage shows Planned Parenthood employees assisting these supposed traffickers, outlining the best ways to get abortions and birth control for 14- and 15-year-old victims. The staffers said that Planned Parenthood clinics would always ignore parental-consent laws and perform abortions for underage girls involved in sex work, and they explained illegal methods of obtaining from clinics both birth control and abortions for minors without health insurance.

After Live Action released the evidence from its initial investigation, Planned Parenthood told the media that it would train all clinic workers to detect and disclose suspected sexual abuse of minors. In a letter to then–attorney general Eric Holder, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards claimed that her group had looked into the trafficking claims and reported them to the relevant law-enforcement authorities.

But the letter named just four of the five jurisdictions targeted by Live Action’s original sting, suggesting that Planned Parenthood took the allegations less seriously than it claimed. And Live Action’s newest investigation, released yesterday, reveals that Planned Parenthood never followed through on Richards’s promise that it would report the trafficking claims, or on its previous public promises to train clinic workers to detect and report such crimes.

Contrary to the claims in Richards’s letter, recent Freedom of Information Act records showing requests made to state justice departments, police departments, and child-protective services in the jurisdictions targeted by Live Action’s original sting reveal that only one state, Arizona, had records indicating that a relevant report was filed with authorities.

And in an interview with Live Action, former Planned Parenthood clinic manager Ramona Treviño said that instead of training employees to help trafficking victims, the organization held sessions on how to determine whether they were being secretly recorded. “That experience for me left me so disgusted that I couldn’t see how Planned Parenthood could ever redeem themselves after that,” Treviño said.

In Treviño’s meeting, Planned Parenthood officials played all of the undercover footage from the Live Action investigation in order to illustrate how clinic managers could better identify undercover journalists.

“I said, ‘I’m confused. When are we going to actually begin the retraining? What can I do as a manager to take this information back to my staff and enforce policies and procedures that would help protect women who are experiencing either sex trafficking or sexual abuse in any way?’” Treviño recalled. In response, she says, she was told, “We’re not here to talk about that, Ramona. We are here to teach you to identify if you’re being videotaped or recorded or entrapped in any way.”

Research shows that about 30 percent of sex-trafficking victims come into contact with Planned Parenthood facilities. Laura Lederer, a former human-trafficking senior adviser at the State Department, reported:

Survivors [of human trafficking] also had significant contact with clinical treatment facilities, most commonly Planned Parenthood clinics, which more than a quarter of survivors (29.6%) visited. . . . Since pimps and traffickers generally exercise nearly complete control of their victims, these points of contact with healthcare represent rare opportunities for victim identification and intervention.

Planned Parenthood claims that reporting suspected sex trafficking is a priority for its staff members, but these two investigations expose the fact that many clinic workers within the organization are willing to overlook or even facilitate the ongoing abuse of minors. All assurances from top Planned Parenthood officials to the contrary, Treviño’s testimony suggests that the abortion giant is more concerned with its image than with the well-being of its clients.

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