Undercover Op: Anti-Abortion Group Questions Planned Parenthood's Sexual Abuse Reporting Practices

Two women go undercover to two Planned Parenthood facilities in Phoenix with one claiming to be underage and pregnant by a much older man.

The encounters are recorded and then posted on the Internet by anti-abortion activists.

Lila Rose, a 20-year-old college student and the founder of Live Action, a group which describes itself as a "youth-led movement dedicated to advancing life rights," made the video and posed as the teenager with the sole purpose of determining whether Planned Parenthood does report sexual abuse of minors to legal authorities.

In 2008, Rose started the Mona Lisa Project and began recording meetings between activists - with fabricated stories - and Planned Parenthood workers in other states with the goal of criminally prosecuting Planned Parenthood.

Under state law, health care providers must file a report when they suspect abuse, such as a sexual relationship between an adult and an underage teenager.

A spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said a prosecutor has reviewed the recordings.

"The videos are disturbing, but we cannot comment further on potential activities this office, or any other law-enforcement office, may take," said Mike Scerbo, a public-information officer with the County Attorney's Office.

Planned Parenthood Arizona is not under investigation by the Arizona attorney general or Maricopa or Pima counties' attorneys.

Planned Parenthood Arizona released a statement saying it takes allegations of not reporting sexual abuse of minors very seriously.

"We are conducting an internal review and will come to a conclusion that is fact based and not based on edited propaganda video," the agency said.

Cynde Cerf, director of communication and marketing for Planned Parenthood Arizona, said that, at the first facility, the young women were talking to a front-desk worker and not a medical professional.

At the second meeting, the women, still posing as 15-year-old girls, met not with a counselor but a clinician, who may have been more practiced at providing medical care than counseling.

"I think she was clumsy in explaining how the practice works," Cerf said. "At the same time, she was still following the procedures that were set up at the time."

Since the recordings were made last July, Planned Parenthood has changed some of its procedures.

The changes were put into place before Live Action started posting their videos.

Young women or girls who appear to possibly be victims of a crime are told upfront that Planned Parenthood is legally obligated to share any suspicions to law-enforcement.

Clinicians are also responsible for the reporting of any suspicions. Previously, that was likely to be a counselor's role.

From Feb. 1 to March 20, Planned Parenthood Arizona reported 24 cases of suspicions of abuse to law enforcement, Cerf said.


Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com