NRL News

PPFA and Sex-Selection abortions: When is a denial not a denial?

by | Jun 6, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Chloe Cooney, PPFA's director of global advocacy

To cut to the chase, a Planned Parenthood official wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in the Washington Post Monday in which Chloë Cooney says flatly, “Mr. Smith [Congressman Chris Smith] asserted that Planned Parenthood supports sex-selection abortions. This is simply untrue. Planned Parenthood opposes sex-selection abortion.”

Let’s see how much, if any truth, there is in this flat-out denial. Let’s read these three sentences in the context of the entire letter–and what else has recently transpired–and see what’s lurking below the surface.

#1. There is all manner of preliminary blather that, without naming Live Action’s undercover video, seeks to dismiss the video as “a coordinated hoax patient campaign that used highly unusual patient scenarios in an effort to discredit Planned Parenthood’s services.” Having got that off her chest, the question remains, is the now-fired worker (as the Daily Caller described it) “seen instructing a Live Action investigator how to obtain an abortion if the child is a female,” or not? Watch for yourself at

#2. The crux, obviously, is what does “Planned Parenthood opposes sex-selection abortion” mean?  In Cooney’s letter you find the same sort of response found in the initial statement issued by Leslie Kantor, PPFA’s vice president for education, after Live Action posted its video on You Tube. That is, that PPFA supposedly has training its staff up to the gills and “If any Planned Parenthood organization learns of an instance where a staff member has not fully followed policies or procedures, it will take swift action and remedy the situation.” Beyond throwing an employee under the bus, does that mean, or does that not mean, that if PPFA learns that the reason a woman wants an abortion is because the child is of the “wrong” sex, they won’t perform the abortion? If they would abort the child anyway, what difference does their alleged “opposition” make?

#3. After declaring that “Racism and gender discrimination are serious issues in our country,” Ms. Cooney (director of global advocacy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America) quickly shifts gears: “they require solutions that address the underlying issues that promote bias.” That, of course, is a direct shot at the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which would prohibit performing or coercing abortions to eliminate unborn babies of an undesired sex – usually girls. The measure secured a solid majority in the House  but not the two-thirds needed to pass under the fast-track procedure that was utilized. So are we to conclude that “education” is the only route to take to save babies who are aborted because they are girls? Yes—that there is no role for laws, which is strange (to put it mildly) coming from feminists who are forever turning to Congress and the courts for remedies.

#4. Cooney ends with this pulled off-the-shelf conclusion: “Whatever one thinks about abortion, it is a deeply personal and complex decision that is best left to a woman, her family and her doctor.” Meaning…what? Here it is important to add that one of the studies House supporters of the bill cited concluded in the abstract that “These narratives [the interviews with the immigrant women] highlight the interaction between medical technology and the perpetuation of this specific form of violence against women in an immigrant context where women are both the assumed beneficiaries of reproductive choice while remaining highly vulnerable to family violence and reproductive coercion.” That family coercion typically came because the mother was carrying a girl. And the “doctor” is an abortionist whose “relationship” to the mother typically begins when she is stirrups.

We’ve been told that PPFA is against gender discrimination and opposes sex-selection abortion, but never are we told unequivocally that Planned Parenthood won’t abort if they know the reason for the abortion is sex-selection.

Finally, in the original Daily Caller story (written by Laura Bassett, who is sympathetic to Planned Parenthood), Bassett concluded that a 

“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).”

Nothing in Chloë Cooney’s letter to the editor would make you doubt for one second the conclusion drawn last week by NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson just before the vote:

“The gist of Planned Parenthood’s response to the Huffington Post is that sex-selection abortion will be on their clinic menu in every jurisdiction that does not ban it by law — and yesterday, Planned Parenthood e-mailed U.S. House members a warning that the organization is strongly opposed to the bill to ban sex-selection abortions nationwide.”

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