What if you threw an undercover investigation and no one was stung? That’s a question that is once again plaguing Live Action, an anti-choice “news” group that specializes in hidden camera and spliced video “exposes” as they follow the footsteps of conservative “gotcha” activist James O’Keefe.
When Live Action “stung” Planned Parenthood in order to allegedly prove they were helping underage girls trafficked into sex work to get an abortion, the organization reported the activity to the police. When Live Action “stung” reproductive health clinics to try to get them to agree to abort female fetuses solely on the basis of their gender, they were so over the top that the clinics were on to the scam long before heavily cut footage made it out into the anti-choice blogosphere.
Now, Live Action appears to have tried and failed again to bait pro-choice organizations. According to The Huffington Post, a member of the group set up a fictitious women’s health business, complete with website and business cards, and met with four different progressive pro-choice groups to try to get them to discuss reproductive rights policies of the president in exchange for potential donations to their organizations.
The woman asked each organization a similar pattern of questions having to do with President Barack Obama’s plans for abortion policy in his second term. She asked whether the groups expected him to repeal the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, and whether they or the president supports late-term abortions, or so-called partial birth abortions. She also inquired about the groups’ political strategies and pressed for information about how closely the groups worked with the Obama campaign.
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All of the organizations said they immediately suspected that the woman was not a legitimate donor.
The woman, who claimed her name was Wendy Reed, perhaps an homage to Ralph Reed, was apparently identified as Wendy Wilmowski, a former television producer who described herself as “self employed and a conservative Christian” opposed to the Affordable Care Act. She approached Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY’s List, and Priorities USA, all under the guise of being a donor and owner of a clinic that provides “VIP Abortions.” (Note, the site has been taken down and scrapped, but likely existed for three weeks, and was registered late September.)
The so-called sting, which LifesiteNews frames as a likely attempt to try and accuse the groups of illegal campaign collaboration, is vaguely reminiscent of the James O’Keefe NPR sting, complete with fake identities and fake advocacy groups created to hide the subterfuge.
Unlike the NPR sting, however, no one seems to have been taken in.
“With three weeks left before a critical election, the war on women continues to rage – and the folks who are targeting women’s rights and opportunities are growing more and more desperate,” said EMILY’s List Communications Director Jen Bluesteinvia email statement. “What’s clear is that the radical and extreme groups who want to roll back the clock on women’s health care realize now that the only way they can win is at the ballot box in November.”
“This appears to be an elaborate hoax, less than four weeks before an election with enormous stakes for women’s health,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, also via email release. “It is outrageous that opponents of women’s health would lie to the public and put real women at risk. They know their only hope to overturn Roe v Wade and to defund Planned Parenthood is to elect Mitt Romney, and it’s now clear there is nothing they won’t do to press their extreme agenda on America’s women.”
Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, is undaunted by exposure of her group’s latest attempt to generate controversy. She told Jill Stanek, “If these pro-abortion groups were as ‘on to us’ as they claim, they should have filmed the encounters themselves. And if Planned Parenthood and their pro-abortion allies stand by everything they said, they should proudly release the tapes and educate the public.”