The XX Factor

Planned Parenthood’s Website Debilitated by DDOS Attack

Planned Parenthood’s website went down Wedneday afternoon.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

This past month has been a rough one for Planned Parenthood. The health care organization has been the target of a misleading video campaign, a database hack targeting employees, an attempt to strip it of its federal funding, and a grammatically challenged tweet from Marco Rubio. Wednesday afternoon brought the latest ordeal for the organization, when its website suffered a “distributed denial of service,” or DDoS, attack, in which hackers flood site with traffic to prevent others from visiting.

Currently, Planned Parenthood’s site is still down, with the organization keeping it offline while it worked on security precautions. Visitors to the site are redirected to Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page, encouraged to use Google Maps to locate their nearest center, and to call to make an appointment.

As reported by Wired, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Dawn Laguens said on Wednesday, “Planned Parenthood is committed to getting people the information they need to make healthy decisions and meet their goals in life—and we deeply regret that in order to more fully protect our websites from these extremist attacks, our full online content will be temporarily unavailable to people looking for good, accurate health information. We will continue to work to reach people where they are online, and our sites will be back up soon.”

As I detailed earlier this week, Sunday’s hack put Planned Parenthood employees in potential danger by exposing their names and contact information. And this new DDoS attack puts Planned Parenthood’s clients at risk by refusing them access to medical information they need.

Each day, some 200,000 people visit the website for information on a variety of reproductive health issues. If it really needs to be reiterated, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s resources is not devoted to abortion, which accounts for only 3 percent of the services provided. The funds for abortions cannot come from the federal government because of the Hyde Amendment. With the federally funded $500 million, Planned Parenthood provides information on birth control, STIs, and parenting, and it conducts life-saving medical procedures, including preventive screenings.

After this barrage of misinformation, the organization finally saw some relief when the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress, the group in charge of the inflammatory videos. The CMP is prohibited from releasing any more video footage that shows footage of officials from the California based StemExpress. But, since this legal respite only applies to StemExpress employees in the jurisdiction, CMP soon released another video with footage of a Planned Parenthood official in Colorado.*

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack, and it is not yet clear if the attack is linked to 3301, the organization that hacked Planned Parenthood’s database on Sunday. But whoever is debilitating the website is actually targeting the hundreds of thousands of Planned Parenthood clients in need of important medical information.

*Update, July 30, 5:10 p.m.: This sentence has been edited to clarify that the restraining order only applies to StemExpress employees in the jurisdiction.