I am not sure if this article and the accompanying video is of interest to the general public or if it is only the Human Traffic Abolitionists who are paying close attention to this but there was a “sting operation” by the Pro-Life organization, Live Action, that could have a negative impact on Planned Parenthood. You can watch the video below.
Go ahead…watch it first so you’ll understand what I am talking about.
What a mess, huh? My first reaction, after seeing this video, was disgust. I wanted to yell at the clinic manager. I wanted to ask her why she was so cooperative, why wasn’t she putting the pimp and his cohort under citizen’s arrest? But, as is often the case, my focus began to change when I let my emotions cool and thought rationally about what I had just seen.
There are a few things going on here that need to be addressed if we are going to look at this situation objectively and learn from it:
Employee or Corporation
I took a look at some of the comments posted in response to the video. One of the most pertinent comments I came across was from a woman who said “How misleading… the title of this should be Employee at Planned Parenthood Caught on Video Trying to Cover up Sex Trafficking”. Her comment raises a great point. In reality, the woman caught on tape was not acting in accordance with Planned Parenthood Policies and Procedures. This tape is not an endictment of Planned Parenthood’s policies and procedures although the aim is to lead the viewer to think the undercover sting had found a manual titled “How to cover up the Trafficking of little girls”.
This video is about an employee who is clearly violating company policy. Let’s put this into perspective. Suppose you go into a department store and ask to see a pair of shoes in your size. The saleswoman responds that she will not go get those for you because you probably can’t afford them anyway. What do you do? Do you initiate a smear campaign aimed at the department store or do you try to rectify the situation by having the salesperson’s actions brought to the attention of her supervisor? Maybe you’d avoid going to that store the next time you shop but that’s probably the extent that will be done by a reasonable person unless that person has an axe to grind. Unless of course you have something against the store to begin with… perhaps they sell fur and you’re an animal rights activist. Or in the case of this video perhaps you are a Pro-Life advocate and Planned Parenthood is Pro-Choice.
So what, in fact, is being uncovered in this video and what are the investigator’s motives? Are you being reasonable in your observation and conclusion of the video or letting your prejudices get a hold of your capability to understand just what needs to be addressed here. This is going to be a controversial statement here so I am letting you know in advance, but here goes… How many Priests within the Catholic Church were convicted of sexual abuse? More than two which is the number of Planned Parenthood employees in these videos. Does that mean we do away with the Catholic Church. Stop all funding public or private because of the sick actions of some within the organization? Think about it…
Was It a Hoax?
The first video came out and I couldn’t help but wonder about the shoddy quality of the video as well as the motives behind the team of editors who in the end decided what we saw and what we did not. The facts remain though. The woman in the first video was relieved of her position, which lends validity to the idea that she was in fact doing something horrible as a representative of Planned Parenthood. The “unedited” version can be found on the Live Action website. I am careful of the word “unedited” because we have no idea what has been edited or not edited out without being in the room. The day after the first video came out articles starting coming out that the piece was a hoax. You can see their one of those arguments here.
Live Action then fired back with another video from another location which was less sensational, but along the same guidelines in that the nurse provided information to the “pimp” and “bottom bitch” about abortion, birth control and STD testing for minors, some of whom do not speak English. So..what do we think. Honestly? I don’t think it matters whether the video is a hoax for MY INTENTS AND PURPOSES here. I capitalize that because again, it does matter for very important reasons, but for my argument here it is a factor we can take out because the final conclusion is the same whether the video is a hoax or not.
What Would Have Been Right?
Put yourself in the situation of a nurse in the same situation as the clinic manager or the woman from the second video. What would you do? Can you even imagine being in such a situation? That is something you must look at carefully in making your judgment. Have you been trained as a mandated reporter? If so do you know the procedures for that? Have you ever had a child come into your class with cuts, bites, and bruises all over them and have to let them go home with a parent they have told you is on drugs because you can only report this to CPS and hope for the best? Does it mean I didn’t care about that child or wanted to kidnap her and keep her safe? No… but what did my outside actions show? That I sent her home with an abuser and did nothing but make a phone call.
Even more pertinent to this story is the situation I am faced with when working with the very girls who are supposed to be the victims in this video. Underage girls who are the victims of Sex Trafficking. I sit with 13-year-olds who tell me that their mothers have turned them out, their 40- year-old pimps have gotten them pregnant, beat them, and raped them. What do I want to do? Get the address of both of these despicable people and have them arrested….but that is not my mission. My mission is to provide support to victims of human trafficking, not the enforcement of the laws surrounding that victim.
If I went and called the police on every crime I heard committed in my work I would not have the trust of my victims and in the end I provide more support that way than I ever could with vigilante justice. What does this have to do with this video? What is Planned Parenthood’s mission? You can read their Mission Statement here. Nowhere in there does it say one of their goals is to stop Sex Trafficking. Does this mean they are trying to support it? No…at least not as a policy of the organization.
They are providing reproductive health care to those who need it regardless of any other factor. These girls will be provided with STD testing and treatment which may keep them from developing cancer, becoming sterile, being in pain or even death. That is what Planned Parenthood does and that is what they provide. If they began stepping out of the realms of their mission statement they would no longer have the trust of the people they are serving and could not complete their mission statement.
Where Do We Go From Here?
There is a reason we (Activists) share information and that is to make the world a better place, expose wrongs and to garner support to make necessary changes. So…what do we do with this information that has been given to us? Let’s use this as a tool for the Abolitionist Movement.
What is one of the most important action items that needs to occur in order to fight Human Trafficking? Training of front-line workers. Social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers need to be trained on how to identify human trafficking and the protocol of what to do once they have. We can use this video as pressure to get us into these facilities where we will reach more victims than anywhere else. The reality of the situation is that Planned Parenthood is free. Pimps are not going to pay for their girls to get health care if it will take away from their bottom line, so chances are most prostituted victims are going to go to Planned Parenthood.
What if each case worker was trained on what language to use to show the victims that they understood their actual position. They understood the horrors of being prostituted and would therefore be more apt to report facts that would be helpful to law enforcement complete THEIR MISSION STATEMENT which is to enforce the law. They would be able to talk with these girls and let them know that there are resources such as shelter and rehabilitation services and people who want to help them. How often does a sex trafficking victim get to be completely separated from her traffickers? Not very often, but a medical office would be a perfect place to provide the girl with resources and the help she would need to escape this life. I think that is a pretty powerful tool.
So this is what I propose… Planned Parenthood make mandatory for all employees training on Human Trafficking and provide a list of resources in each clinic that can be provided to potential victims. A key person at each facility should be trained in depth on the sex trafficking situation in their area and have contacts in law enforcement and NGOs in the area that they can have immediate contact with should a situation needing such action arise. We need to live in the world we are given and work from there, not create an idealistic world where nothing will be done because it is not plausible in reality.
Nikki Junker is the co-founder and executive director of With More Than Purpose Abolitionist Movement. She is passionate about fighting Human Trafficking in the United States. She not only knows the problem from an activist standpoint, but as a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation.