I spent a small chunk of a rather busy afternoon yesterday watching the latest Lila Rose video , filmed in a Bronx Planned Parenthood, and my emotional temperature during the entire thing was, in sum, bored. The video, which Planned Parenthood claims was doctored (a substantive claim, as one of the videos from the latest string has been demonstrated to be doctored , and Rose and her comrades such as James O’Keefe have a long history of this) shows impatient Planned Parenthood employees trying to suffer fools for as long as it takes the get them out the front door. The actors are unable to get past reception, and so they dodge the woman and grab a doctor, who is short with them.
The first video did show an employee acting unprofessionally (though admitting to them that most employees at Planned Parenthood do their jobs correctly), and further videos have shown literally nothing of interest. In both videos, the employees are all about information, and they focus intently on getting rid of the person in front of them and insisting that any young women seeking medical care come in by themselves. They emphasize their ability to educate the young women, explaining that they have translators. Over and over again, the theme is that no one claiming to have control over minor a woman will be allowed to make decisions for her, and that minor women have to come in by themselves and work directly with doctors. When the actors did in fact mention illegal behavior that has to be reported, whoops, looks like that’s exactly what Planned Parenthood did .
What I realized, watching this latest video, is that the intended audience is not me or anyone who lives outside of the sheltered enclaves of fundamentalist Christianity or white bread surburbia. Rose claims that turning the actors into the police wasn’t sufficient and implied that OB-GYN nurses should have somehow detained a man who they were supposedly led to believe is a violent pimp, presumably with the nursing-school-issued Tasers and handcuffs. These videos may be shocking—and most important for the intended Fox News audience, titillating—if you actually believe that anyone under 18 having sex is “evidence” of crime, and should be reacted to like you’re Dirty Harry taking out a den of thieves. (Certainly, one anti-choicer on Twitter pompously claimed to me that all STDs in young people are reason to call the police, while detaining apparently anyone and everyone in sight.) I’d like to see that attitude taken up in the communities of those who are eating up these videos, instead of just pushed on the low-income and immigrant-heavy communities these videos were filmed in. Who wouldn’t want to see police raids of senior proms, with all the virginity losers cuffed and lined up on the curb.
I love especially how the actors use the word “confidential” frequently. The only way the responses from the doctors and nurses would be shocking is if they said, “Nah, everything you tell a medial professional is immediately put on my blog with your picture and identifying information.” As much as Rose’s audience may not like it, even young people, poor people, and immigrants have a right to medical confidentiality. Yes, even women they consider dirty sluts have the right, though Rose has demanded a world where that right is terminated for some women and replaced with a system famously fictionalized by Hawthorne.
It’s critical to separate the underage angle from the sex-trafficking angle. Put yourself in the shoes of the employees filmed. An older man is asking about health care access—STD testing, contraception, possibly abortion—for some underage woman out of sight. He implies that he’s a pimp, though never says so directly. First of all, this is a weird situation that doesn’t happen in real life, and so you’re caught off guard. The proper response is to address the two issues separately—what he’s doing and what the hypothetical young women need. Tell the man that anyone seeking medical care has to do it on her own, and do everything in your power to make sure she’s separated from him and informed of her options. Then, when he leaves, report suspicious activity to the police. This is the only path that could possibly lead to the desired outcome, which is him in jail and her getting the medical attention she deserves. And this just so happens to be what the employees try to do in what are very strange circumstances.
Despite some maudlin language at the top of one of the videos, the most striking aspect of these videos is how much Rose and her comrades don’t see underage prostitutes as human beings who need care, but instead as titillating objects to be exploited. At one point, the “pimp” even labels a woman he’s asking about as Thai, and clearly the audience is supposed to be shocked that the doctor doesn’t immediately yell, “Sex slavery!” and tackle him to the ground. But outside of conservative enclaves, I can safely say it’s not assumed all Thai women are prostitutes, and in fact saying so is what you’d call racist. The biggest demand Rose is ostensibly making is that Planned Parenthood approach the problem of sex trafficking in a way that makes absolutely sure the trafficked women don’t seek medical care, are not counseled out of ear shot of their pimps, and are not given an opportunity to heal and perhaps get help to escape. So, who’s supposedly aiding and abetting sex slavery again?