The anti-abortion group Live Action released its third installment in a series of sting videos released Wednesday designed to bolster support for a federal sex-selective abortion ban, or the Prenatal Non-Discrimation Act. But Live Action's own full, unedited videos, reveal just how difficult such laws might be to enforce.
The edited video (embedded below) features a young woman visiting a two women's clinics in Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a bill into law last year that bans abortion when the cited cause is the race or sex of the fetus.
A voiceover decrying pro-choice rhetoric as a “radical abortion-for-any-reason ideology” and two abortion clinic workers, one from Tucson and one from Phoenix, attempts to out the clinics as violating Arizona's ban on sex-selective abortions. But both workers seem to inform the Live Action operative recording them that Arizona state law prohibits abortions based on race or sex.
Upon learning the Live Action operative's plan to terminate her pregnancy because of the gender, the first clinic worker in the video, allegedly from Camelback Family Planning in Phoenix, said, "Oh, don't tell us that. We don't want to know. Because one of the things on here -- it says --," the worker replied, indicating the form the Live Action worker initialed. "Yeah, it says you are not doing this because of race or sex."
Camelback Family Planning, when reached by telephone, said they had no comment on the video.
A second edited video shows another worker, allegedly from Tucson Women's Center, instructing a woman to avoid mention of sex selection to the doctor performing the abortion.
This edited 6-minute video, like the one issued by Live Action last week, takes the conversation between the Live action activist and the clinic professionals out of context.
The full 15-minute video, also embedded below and released by Live Action on its YouTube page, does not in fact feature the first worker from Camelback in the edited video. Live Action did release the full video from Tucson Women's Center, which reveals that the clinic worker explains a great deal of the procedure before the woman reveals that she desires to terminate based sex.
About 9 minutes in, as soon as the clinic worker hears her explain she knows its a girl because she took a urine test because "it seems really reliable online" and wants to terminate because she doesn't want a girl, he tells her they can't perform her abortion.
"We can't do your abortion, then. We can't terminate an abortion based on sex. We could lose our license," he said. "That's the law in Arizona. We can't do abortions based on sex."
After asking why, the clinic worker replies, "Arizona is just crazy about abortions."
The Live Action operative, upon learning that state law prohibits such an abortion, then pleads with him, telling him she can misrepresent herself to the doctor and carry through with the abortion procedure anyway.
The worker, after a several long pauses, said, "Yeah."
The Live Action operative then requests to come in for the consultation appointment. Arizona is one of 35 states (PDF) that requires a waiting period before performing an abortion.
It is at that point that the clinic worker tells her, "You actually have to sign a document saying it's not because of race or gender." And follows it up with, "So just don't say anything about it tomorrow to him."
Calls to the Tucson Women's Clinic were not returned at the time of publication.
Arizona is one of several states that passed a number of anti-abortion initiatives in recent years, which reached a record high nationwide in 2011, with some of the most extreme measures nationwide passed in the state.
Republicans brought a sex-selective abortion ban to vote in the House last week, but it failed under a special rules session.
Ultimately, the clinic workers are bound by the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act, so information the patient tells him or her is privileged. The workers face up to 3.5 years in prison if prosecutors can prove in court a doctor knowingly performed an abortion based on race or sex, but ultimately, doctors will only face such charges unless caught by such sting operations like those of anti-abortion groups like Live Action.
A Guttmacher Institute survey of 32 studies from women in 27 countries found that the most often cited reason for pregnancy termination is to stop childbearing and the second most often cited reason is socioeconomic concerns. Guttmacher, a pro-choice sexual health information think tank, also recently released an analysis that found general demographic birth trends suggest that sex selective abortion is not a major issue in the United States.
"In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities, although the U.S. sex ratio, at 1.05 males for every female, is squarely within biologically normal parameters," the analysis found.
Media Matters also points out that most abortions occur in the United States before the sex of the fetus could be determined.
Watch the edited video, uploaded to YouTube June 6.
Watch the full video from Tucson Women's clinic, uploaded to YouTube June 6.