Guest Column

When I worked at Planned Parenthood, there was a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ mentality about sex trafficking

women's rights, 13 Reasons Why, assisted suicide

There’s one story that still continues to haunt me from my time as a Planned Parenthood manager, both as a mother and as a human being, after all these years. It’s a story of a fifteen-year-old girl who came into my Planned Parenthood family planning center. It was peculiar situation but not uncommon, I’m sure. It’s only now in hindsight that I look back with shame and a great sense of culpability.

This story goes like this: A father called my clinic for an appointment for his daughter. He asked lots of questions over the phone to ensure that he was allowed to bring her in and that we wouldn’t notify the girl’s mother. He and mom were divorced, he said, and his daughter was in his custody when she had sex for the first time and contracted herpes. I proceeded to tell him that it was no problem at all, and that he was doing the right thing by bringing her in to see us.

The day she arrived in our center is one I’ll never forget. This young girl was in so much pain that she couldn’t even sit down. She winced as she struggled to sit in one of the lobby chairs. After paperwork was filled out, we called her back into the exam room where she was tested, treated, and sent on her way with some form of birth control.

The author, Ramona Trevino

Six years later, I’m still deeply troubled by what happened that day. We did nothing to ensure that the man who brought this young girl in was indeed her father. We didn’t ask for identification. We didn’t ask for anything. We “cleaned” her up and sent her back out again.

It was only later that I would watch undercover footage obtained by Live Action showing Planned Parenthood employees willing to aid and abet sex traffickers.

After seeing that undercover investigation, I wondered about that young girl at my center. Was she being sex trafficked? Was her father really her father? And if so, was he the one who infected her with herpes? These are questions I still ask myself after all these years.

There are no regulations put in place to safeguard against potential abuse or sex trafficking at Planned Parenthood — at least not while I worked there. We didn’t ask for identification, and it was as if there was a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” type of mentality. That attitude was prevalent. It shames me to say I was guilty of having the same attitude.

This is just one of the many stories, many situations, and many faces I still remember from my time at Planned Parenthood.

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