Responding to David Session on Planned Parenthood and Live Action

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Earlier today I wrote a post that highlighted, “Three Problems with David Sessions’ AOL Opinion Piece on Planned Parenthood.” David Sessions responded here and now I am responding to his response. Sessions writes:

Live Action claims that because 1) Planned Parenthood has not publicly declared which local law enforcement each one of the visited clinics contacted immediately, and 2) because they took three to seven days to send a letter to the authorities, then they were obviously “covering their tracks.” David Schmidt, who wrote the group’s response to my column, says that Planned Parenthood “acted in an unacceptably slow manner.”

Again, this is Live Action dictating the acceptable response and then crowing when their own arbitrary criteria are not met.

Live Action is not dictating what is acceptable, state law does. State law in all 50 states requires the reporting of child sexual abuse. While the laws vary from state to state, the laws often say child sexual abuse must be reported “immediate”. Other states allow for reporting with 24 or 48 hours but I have never seen 3+ up to 7 days later as acceptable. Live Action isn’t making up an arbitrary standard of what is acceptable and enforcing it on Planned Parenthood, we are looking at state law and comparing Planned Parenthood to that.

Sessions also says:

The fake pimp and his wild story about underage sex slaves were pretty implausible.

While this is Session’s opinion and not a matter of fact, I would direct him to a recent article by that states:

The FBI estimates there are 300,000 child prostitutes in the United States. Human trafficking often preys on runaways, vulnerable teen-agers and illegal immigrants.

Underage sex slavery is real and these underage sex slaves don’t become sex slaves on their own, they have a pimp. I don’t know if David Sessions is just naive to the FBI estimate of 300,000 child prostitutes in the US or if he is purposely trying to make the scenario sound far-fetched to discredit Live Action but either way, real children are at risk and the scenario is very plausible.

Additionally, Steven Wagner who is the former head of the Human Trafficking Program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t question the legitimacy of Live Action’s scenario in his article, “Planned Parenthood: A culture of sexploitation” but rather said:

To subject a juvenile victim of commercial sexual exploitation to either an abortion or contraception has only one purpose: to sustain her exploitation, and only one beneficiary: the trafficker/pimp. This is why the Live Action videos are so revealing and so shocking.

Back to Session’s response as he says:

The fact that the clinics reported the visits to their head office in Washington suggests they knew what was happening. Why would they call the police? Still, a couple of them did.

Fact-check: It was only some clinics that contacted Planned Parenthood’s head office.

When faced with a situation of suspected child sexual abuse, Planned Parenthood doesn’t have the luxury of deciding what cases to report and which ones not to. The law doesn’t give them that decision making power. If Planned Parenthood didn’t report to local law enforcement  because they suspected that they were being investigated as Session suggestion, why then did they later in a delayed manner write to the Justice Department? If they took it seriously enough to write the Justice Department days later, then why not contact local police promptly as required by law? Session’s suggestion is no excuse for Planned Parenthood.

Sessions later writes:

But because Planned Parenthood didn’t react within Live Action’s arbitrarily-set timeframe—”within 24 hours”—Live Action expects us to believe they can be instantly presumed guilty and that anything done later than that was done to “cover their tracks.”

Once again, it is the law, not Live Action that sets the reporting standard of immediate reporting.


Schmidt is right that we don’t know for sure who Planned Parenthood called when. But this is beside the point;

No, it is not besides the point. It is the central point. Whether Planned Parenthood broke child abuse reporting laws comes down to these facts. These facts are not “beside the point”, these facts answer the most important question – did Planned Parenthood break the law.

Sessions again:

If the crimes had been real and Planned Parenthood decided it needed to notify authorities, doing so a few days later would have still been a timely, appropriate response.

No, that would not be “timely,” as state law dictates that mandated child sex abuse reporters act on a more urgent time-frame. For example…

New Jersey law states:

Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately

DC law states:

Immediately make an oral report…

Virgina law states:

…shall report the matter immediately…

This document may be helpful.

Sessions writes of the charge that he called the Live Action videos “misleading” without citing any evidence:

I did not mean the videos were dishonestly edited…

It sounds like you are correcting yourself then as your initial articles stated:

The Lila Rose videos weren’t the first time activists have trumped up misleading videos to score political points.

That sounds like you are saying that the videos are misleading, not just Live Action’s rhetoric (which is what your response claims you initially meant).

Session’s responses also don’t address one of my three initial charges against his original piece:

Stating an Unestablished Event as Fact

The article states:

They [Planned Parenthood] answered the questions and notified the authorities immediately afterward.

The facts:

Planned Parenthood has not released documentation showing what law enforcement they contacted and when. They have simply covered their tracks by pointing to the belated letter that they wrote to the Justice Department.

Out of 7 clinic videos released, in only two cases (Roanoke and Charlottesville) has Planned Parenthood publicly said what local law enforcement they contacted.

In the case of Charlottesville, they claimed they contacted the local Albemarle police but they reported to the media that they have no record of a child sex abuse report coming from Planned Parenthood.

In the case of Roanoke, it appeared that Planned Parenthood staff did the right thing and promptly contacted local law enforcement. Doing the right thing in 1 of 7 cases is not a good record. Of course the Roanoke investigation did find Planned Parenthood staff giving egregious medical advice, recommending to our reporter who said he may have an  STDs that he can go donate blood to avoid paying for an STD test.

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