We've all seen this movie before. In 2009 ACORN got ambushed by a sting video, and the Democratic congress panicked and gutted ACORN. Subsequent investigations (CRS, MA Attorney General, CA Attorney General) found that ACORN had done nothing wrong in these sting videos. The supposed sting video was revealed to be selectively edited and phonier than a 3 dollar bill. But all that vindication came too late - Congress already killed ACORN. Not even a year later- USDA appointee Shirley Sherrod was ambushed with another gotcha video from Breitbart. Tom Vilsack fired her summarily. And then he found out that her quote was taken completely out of context, and her speech, far from being racist, was actually a personal testimony against racism. Sherrod was vindicated, but the Obama administration's tragicomic incompetence was on the front page for a solid week.
So what happened this week? Planned Parenthood was ambushed by a sting video which showed one of their employees assisting a wired pregnant woman wanting to abort her girl fetus. PP responded with the same smoothness as OJ Simpson jumping into his Bronco. They fired the employee in question and then released this baffling statement:
Six weeks ago a former staff member serving in an entry-level position did not follow our protocol for providing information and guidance when presented with a highly unusual patient scenario. Planned Parenthood insists on the highest quality patient care, and if we ever become aware of a staff member not meeting these high standards, we take swift action.The employee was fired for failure to follow certain unnamed protocols, with the implication that she flouted Planned Parenthood's stance against sex selection abortions. In other words Planned Parenthood is agreeing with their opponent Liveaction that sex selection abortions are a no-no, and this employee has crossed the line.
Gender bias is contrary to everything our organization works for daily in communities across the country. Planned Parenthood opposes racism and sexism in all forms, and we work to advance equity and human rights in the delivery of health care.
But then on the same day, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson, as quoted by the Huffington Post, made this contradictory statement:
This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).Well- wasn't that what this employee was doing? Helping a woman exercise her choice in a non-judgmental manner? So which one is it? Is Planned Parenthood a non-judgmental vehicle to help women exercise their choices, regardless of how foolish or questionable that choice is? Or is Planned Parenthood going to pass judgment and wag their fingers on sex selection abortions? Planned Parenthood had known that a sting video operation was coming, and they never thought to get their act together and come up with a coherent message.
Then on Wednesday- they issued this statement in opposition to the PRENDA Act pending in Congress (a toothless grandstanding bill which does nothing to stop sex selection abortions):
Planned Parenthood strongly condemns any coercive reproductive policies,” said Richards. “This legislation will impose harmful restrictions on a woman’s access to care and limit her choices as she makes personal medical decisions. Furthermore, it would intrude on the critical nature of the doctor/patient relationship and interfere with a doctor’s ability to provide nonjudgmental, high-quality care for women.Back on message. The nonjudgmental version of Planned Parenthood carries the day. But the 24hr news window has already passed. The news cycle has already moved onto the Beyonce/Kardashian kiss-and-makeup story. The only thing the general public remembers from this episode is that Planned Parenthood got caught aiding and abetting sex selection abortion, and hastily fired its employee after being caught red-handed. Planned Parenthood has lost the messaging war, and garbled its own core message of non-judgmental care and non-judgmental defence of women's choices.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved.
Sting videos are made for the 24 hour news cycle and 3 minute attention span. They will keep coming. We on the left needs to stop panicking at shooting at our own shadows every time one of these videos turns up. When attacked- never validate your opponent's charge. Divert attention by counter-attacking. When the sting video hits you where it hurts- just ignore it completely. The 24 hr news cycle being what it is- the story will go away soon enough. The way democrats have been reacting to sting videos - hair-on-fire panicking following by hysterical self-flagellation, and then finally rational rebuttal- is messaging suicide.