Planned Parenthood Agreed to Accept Race-Motivated Donations
July 7, 2008 - 8:06 PM
(CNSNews.com) - According to telephone conversations taped by a student pro-life publication, The Advocate, at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), Planned Parenthood locations in Ohio and Idaho agreed to accept money targeted at minorities even when racist intentions were expressed.
Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio confirmed to Cybercast News Service that the telephone conversation with a presumed donor occurred in mid-summer 2007, adding that it was not the policy of Planned Parenthood to accept donations specifically to underwrite abortions among minority women.
James O' Keefe, a first-year law student and an advisor for the The Advocate, made the telephone call posing as a potential donor to Planned Parenthood of Ohio.
The tape begins with a portion of the call in which O'Keefe confirms the location of the Planned Parenthood facility in Columbus, Ohio. According to Lila Rose, the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and a sophomore at UCLA, the tape then cuts to the relevant portion of the call in which O'Keefe offers a donation:
Planned Parenthood:"Planned Parenthood Administration, this is Lisa."
O'Keefe:"Hi. I am interested in making a donation today."
Planned Parenthood:"Let me put you through to Tim in our development office."
O'Keefe:"Is there anyone I can speak to now?"
O'Keefe: "Who am I speaking with now?"
Planned Parenthood: "My name is Lisa Hutton."
O'Keefe: "Lisa, what is your position?"
Planned Parenthood: "Administrative assistant."
O'Keefe: "When I underwrite an abortion, does that apply to minorities too?"
Planned Parenthood: "If you specifically want to underwrite it for a minority person, you can target it that way. You can specify that that's how you want it spent."
O'Keefe: "Okay, yeah, because there's definitely way too may black people in Ohio. So, I'm just trying to do my part."
Planned Parenthood: "Hmm. Okay, whatever."
O'Keefe: "Blacks especially need abortions too. So, that's what I'm trying to do."
Planned Parenthood: "Well, for whatever reason, we'll accept the money."
O'Keefe:"Great, Thank You."
Planned Parenthood:"Mmmm, hmmm."
Listen to Audio
The Advocate told Cybercast News Service that O'Keefe placed this call on July 10, 2007. Lisa Perks, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio, confirmed that such a call did take place in summer 2007.
"It was a violation of any policy, and it's very upsetting," Perks told Cybercast News Service. "Planned Parenthood has a long history of social justice."
O'Keefe told Cybercast News Service it was his voice on the recording and that the recording has not been doctored. "Nothing was done to change the content," he said. "I think the audio clearly speaks for itself."
O' Keefe explained that part of his motivation for placing the call was to fight the racism he perceives in Planned Parenthood.
"African-Americans today are targeted by the abortion industry and suffer deeply because of it," he said. "Planned Parenthood makes a profit off of their operations. We wanted to reveal their racist past - and the practical racism of their policies today - reflected in their other operations. Planned Parenthood must be held accountable for their actions, both past and present."
In another recording given to Cybercast News Service by The Advocate, O'Keefe placed a call to Planned Parenthood of Idaho also on July 10, 2007. A woman answers the phone and identifies herself as Autumn.
She tells the caller it is possible to target African-Americans with their donation. The caller says, "Okay, the abortion ... I can give money specifically for a black baby. That would be the purpose."
Autumn, who apparently is Autumn Kersey, then-director of development at the office, says: "Absolutely. If you wanted to designate that you wanted your gift be used to help an African-American woman in need, then we would certainly make sure that gift was earmarked specifically for that purpose." Listen to Audio
The caller then says, "Good, because I really face trouble with affirmative action and I don't want my kids being disadvantaged, you know, against black kids. I just had a baby. I want to put it in his name, you know." Autumn answers, "Mmmm, absolutely. ... Always, always."
The caller goes on to say: "You know, we just think, the less black kids out there, the better." And Autumn answers: "Understandable, understandable."
"All right, excuse my hesitation," says Autumn. "This is the first time I have had a donor call and make this kind of request, and so I'm excited, and I want to make sure I don't leave anything out," she said. Listen to Audio
Burke Hays, public affairs field organizer for Planned Parenthood of Idaho, initially spoke to Cybercast News Service but would not confirm the authenticity of the tapes despite five requests for comment left both on his work voicemail and cell phone voicemail.
Cybercast News Service made similar inquiries to Rebecca Poedy, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Idaho, and she also did not respond.
However the Idaho Statesman reported Thursday that on Wednesday Poedy apologized in a written statement on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Idaho. The apology reads:
"A fundraising employee violated the organization's principles and practices when she appeared to be willing to accept a racially motivated donation. We apologize for the manner in which this offensive call was handled. We take full responsibility for the actions of the fundraising staff member who created the impression that racism of any form would be tolerated at Planned Parenthood," Poedy wrote.
"We took swift action to ensure that each of our employees understands their responsibility to communicate clearly with donors about the fact that we believe in helping all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, make informed decisions about their reproductive health care," she added.
Both the Web site of Planned Parenthood of Idaho and the group's automated answering system indicate that Autumn Kersey currently serves as vice president of development and marketing for Planned Parenthood of Idaho. Multiple messages with requests for comment were left on Kersey's voicemail but were not answered.
Perks told Cybercast News Service there was an incident report filed and extensive discussion and training about how to handle donations sparked by the "donor" phone call made last summer. Hutton still works in the Planned Parenthood office, and according to Perks, there was no disciplinary action other than "personal conversations and dialogue."
Perks also questioned the integrity of the telephone recordings. "I wonder how much of the call was given to you," she said. "I am wondering if the statements were taken out of order or out of context."
In multiple voicemail messages, Cybercast News Service offered to send the audio of the conversation to Perks for her review and comment, but she did not respond.
Rose said she is not surprised Planned Parenthood is questioning the audio and then not commenting further. "The phone calls were in no way edited to change their content," she told Cybercast News Service. "We are expecting them to deny it, any way possible, including claims or insinuations that the recordings are somehow false."
Rose told Cybercast News Service that any edits in the audiotapes were to cut out waiting, electronic beeps, and other such material.
The Advocate has a history of conducting investigations. In May 2007, it released a YouTube video in which Rose, posing as a 15-year-old impregnated by her 23-year-old boyfriend, was accepted for an abortion and encouraged to lie on her paperwork about her true age.
Cybercast News Service covered the investigation, and the story was subsequently widely reported.
Despite numerous inquiries by Cybercast News Service to Planned Parenthood International for comment, the organization did not respond.
However, in response to the video released by The Advocate in 2007, Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood International, acknowledged that Planned Parenthood staff had violated policy, adding that Planned Parenthood had been duped by the pro-life investigators from The Advocate.
"We believe the individuals behind this are doing this not out of motivation to protect teens but, in fact, to discredit Planned Parenthood," Kneer said. "They went in with an objective to manipulate our staff, and they did succeed in manipulating our staff."
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