Live Action's New Planned Parenthood Attack Manufactures “Widespread” Sex-Selective Abortion Problem

Discredited anti-choice activist Lila Rose launched her latest video hoax, claiming that a highly edited video proves that Planned Parenthood is facilitating rampant “gendercide” in America. But statistics show that sex-selection simply does not happen with any regularity in the United States, as the vast majority of abortions are performed before gender is detectable, and the gender birth ratio in America is close to even.

Rose on Tuesday released undercover footage purporting to show a clinic worker in Austin, Texas, discussing health care options with a woman who claimed to want to terminate her pregnancy if she was carrying a girl. Live Action's accompanying petition suggests that Planned Parenthood is complicit in “Widespread sex-selection by means of abortion.” This video hoax is part of a campaign aimed at “exposing the practice of sex-selective abortion in the United States and how Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry facilitate the selective elimination of baby girls in the womb.”

But the first video demonstrates that Rose can show no such effort to facilitate rampant sex-selection abortion.

In a companion post to the video, Live Action pointed to global statistics showing sex-selection in countries such as China and suggested a similar problem occurs in the United States, warning:

U.S. census data and national vital statistics show that indeed, sex-selection is a growing problem in America. Americans are employing sex-selection techniques in their reproductive decisions.

But actual evidence shows that sex-selection in America is neither widespread nor growing. According to the CIA's World Factbook, the gender ratio at birth in the United States is 1.05 males to females, a rate that the Guttmacher Institute calls “squarely within biologically normal parameters.” The United States simply does not have a gender imbalance that would indicate that sex-selection occurs with any regularity.

Further, most abortions are performed before gender is identifiable. The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2008, 91.4% of abortions were performed before the 13th week of pregnancy. Robert Shmerling of Harvard Health Publications noted that gender identification by means of ultrasound, by far the most popular method, is usually only available by the 16th to 20th week. Although there are methods to detect gender earlier on in a pregnancy, “these procedures are usually performed to detect potential health problems such as Down's syndrome, spina bifida, or cystic fibrosis, not to find out a baby's gender.”

As Planned Parenthood's Leslie Kantor and Carolyn Westhoff recently noted, Planned Parenthood “finds the concept of sex selection deeply unsettling” and the organization “does not offer sex determination services; our ultrasound services are limited to medical purposes.” Kantor and Westhoff further noted:

Planned Parenthood condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias, and urges leaders to challenge the underlying conditions that lead to these beliefs and practices, including addressing the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote gender bias and lead some to value one gender over the other.

Planned Parenthood's mission mandates that it provides information to patients on all of their legal options in an environment free of judgment, and one that respects the privacy, rights, and choices of the individual. Explaining legal options to women who ask about them is a fulfillment of the organization's goal “to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual.”

Attempting to tie Planned Parenthood to a problem that does not occur with any regularity in the United States is further indication that Live Action, and its founder, Lila Rose, are willing to engage in dishonest and misleading campaigns to smear an organization with a history of dedication to improving women's health.

UPDATE: In a statement to The Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood responded to Live Action's latest attack:

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman told The Huffington Post on Tuesday the staffer in the video “did not follow our protocol” for dealing 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,” she said in a written statement. “Within three days of this patient interaction, the staff member's employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining in managing unusual patient encounters. Today opponents of Planned Parenthood are promoting an edited video of that hoax patient encounter.”

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).