Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lila Rose vs. Planned Parenthood

This is what I did my Undercover Ethics paper on. A young anti-abortion activist named Lila Rose has walked into numerous Planned Parenthood's, executing sting operations by carrying a hidden camera and posing to be an impregnated minor involved in sex trafficking. The point of these undercover operations is to expose unethical behavior that is going on at Planned Parenthood. What do you think? Are her efforts ethical?

1 comment:

professordoctor said...

I like this one because I don’t like it; that is, I think Planned Parenthood is doing an important job in our society and thus I don’t like seeing them dinged. But it this case they appear to deserve the scrutiny that naturally arose from this bit of video. Several points come to mind:
1) As the Krueger podcast suggested, I think it’s reasonable to concentrate not on who does a piece of undercover work (what she called the “provenance,” or source) but the quality of the work. Let’s concentrate on the journalism, not the “journalist,” that slippery term which sometimes grants privilege to someone who just happens to have a certain degree or work for a certain organization.
2) Before I praise this as good journalism, I’d have to see the outtakes, that is, the raw material from which this was extracted. This is a pretty good chunk of video and it does not seem to misrepresent, but the notion of something being taken out of context is a valid one. I think I just read a Jay Rosen piece in which he said that, in his day of server farms, all the video should be posted so that viewers can understand what was gained or lost in editing.
3) All that said, the PP worker may have been operating on deep principles that we should not overlook (if, indeed, they were there). Maybe she knew that turning in the pimp would result in worse lives for the girls. Maybe she knew that the cops/authorities in her neighborhood routinely ignore reports about underage hookers. Maybe she knew that if these women didn’t get service from PP, there would be no service. Or maybe not. All I’m saying is that *righteous* undercover always lets the burned person explain what the undercover work has revealed.
4) Bottom line: I don’t see this video as de facto unethical even though I don’t sympathize with the people who made it. My general critique of U.S media remains the same: too timid and complacent.