Last month, Live Action released footage of a Planned Parenthood employee in Roanoke, Virginia advising a potential STD carrier to donate blood as a way of receiving cheap testing for STDs. Common sense would dictate that this is not wise medical advice. But there are professional reasons why it is inappropriate counsel as well.
Ruth D. Sylvester, Director of Regulatory Services for America’s Blood, told me via e-mail,
“Donating blood is not an appropriate mechanism to obtain screening for sexually transmitted diseases or any other test result. Though donated blood is screened, and is safer than it has ever been, the hallmark of the system is the honesty of the donor in completing the donor history questionnaire. Additionally, in the eyes of the Food and Drug Administration, these donors would not be considered “volunteer” because they are donating for the purposes of obtaining something in return, hence, they would have a reason to be less than truthful.”
What was Planned Parenthood’s response to the video that showed one of their employees promoting this inappropriate and dishonest mechanism?
“Earlier today, secretly taped videos were released by Live Action, an organization whose mission is to close our health centers and whose efforts are being used to make false claims about our services. This organization used a fake patient claiming to be engaged in the sex trade and managing under-aged girls in an effort to coax our staff into making damaging comments. The hoax was perpetrated at our Roanoke and Charlottesville health centers on January 11, 2011
The employees on these edited tapes in Roanoke and Charlottesville acted professionally…”
Not a word was said about the questionable medical advice.
Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric about coaxing, hoaxing and fake patients infers that they think this is a game of cat-and-mouse rather than a serious wake-up call. Their preoccupation with dismissing Live Action as an extreme gadfly that can be outwitted might have been what resulted in them failing to address an important issue.
The Roanoke employee’s blood donation advice was not a mere hypothetical scenario involving a “fake patient”. The employee actually said – unreservedly on her own initiative – that she has been “tell[ing] a lot of people” who might have sexually transmitted diseases to do the same thing.
After filing a complaint about Planned Parenthood in Roanoke with the Roanoke City Health Department, the latter told me on March 8th that “[Planned Parenthood] certainly appreciated being notified of that…and they said they had already been made aware of that and have instructed the staff member, and a corrective plan is in place with training. So they seem to be pretty on top of that issue.”
Live Action is looking forward to hearing the details of Planned Parenthood’s “corrective plan.” Planned Parenthood has not yet returned a follow-up call placed last week.