LiveAction, a pro-life non-profit, has captured media attention of late with its series of undercover videos captured at abortion clinics. And now a pro-choice activist has followed suit, launching her own investigative series. Going undercover at a crisis pregnancy center, 24-year-old Katie Stack recently recorded a conversation with a staffer there and is decrying what she claims are inaccurate tidbits of information.
The founder of the Crisis Project, Stack records videos at these centers, which are pro-life operations that seek to provide woman with medical services, while also dissuading them from seeking abortions. These groups are generally praised among pro-lifers, however the Crisis Project, among other critics, believes that they are potentially dangerous.
“The Crisis Project is a youth led movement that is committed to advancing social justice by exposing threats to human rights,
the group’s website reads. “By utilizing new media and investigative journalism we illuminate an invisible crisis in this country – Americans are systematically denied access to both their legal rights and to accurate information because of the coercive and manipulative nature of regressive political and social ideologies.”
The most recent video was captured by Stack at Ohio’s Cleveland’s Womankind, a crisis pregnancy center. Here’s how Salon recaps the inaccurate information that was given (the young woman depicted in the video, as noted, is Katie):
In a secretly recorded video (embedded at the bottom of this story), a young woman named Kate, 19, tells a counselor at Cleveland’s Womankind “maternal and prenatal care” center, “Usually we use condoms, but yesterday we didn’t.” She’s taken a pregnancy test, but is told it is probably too soon. Then Kate asks, “Like, I know there’s a pill you can take to not get pregnant. And I don’t know if you have to go to the doctor?”
After some confusion, the counselor replies inaccurately, “It sounds like the morning after pill. If you have intercourse and then take this pill and it causes a period to come on or something, or bleeding. It’s like having kind of an abortion.” She adds, “That could harm you. It really could harm you … You could hemorrhage from anything like that.” [...]
Whether the counselor was misinformed or intentionally misleading, her advice on emergency contraception was false. The so-called morning after pill, or emergency contraception, has been shown only to block ovulation to prevent fertilization after unprotected sex; it’s decidedly not an abortion. It is entirely distinct from medication abortion, which can only be taken at a doctor’s office, and which does cause bleeding by inducing a miscarriage. By contrast, the possible side effects for Plan B, the most commonly taken form of emergency contraception, are listed as changes in your period, nausea, lower abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, dizziness and breast tenderness. The counselor did seem to be vaguely aware of the distinction, saying of the pills in question, “I know people do buy it over the counter, but is that wise? Something somebody else might do you don’t do.”
You can watch part one, below:
And here’s part two:
The investigation will likely rile critics who have said that crisis pregnancy centers are not true medical offices, that they falsely advertise their services (or lack thereof), and that they often do not provide the proper information to women. While this may be true in this individual case, this video — like those filmed by Live Action — is anecdotal and not necessarily representative of the wider pool of crisis pregnancy centers.
Stack, like Lila Rose of Live Action, believes that undercover journalism is the way to expose the happenings at women’s health centers. In the past, TheBlaze has explored the journalistic standards and ethics surrounding undercover videos. The central question is: Is it ever permissible to lie to get the truth? While some would quickly answer affirmatively, it’s a challenging dynamic — and one that deserves scrutiny.
Experts have a variety of opinions, but the general consensus is that, unless deceit is the only option to retrieving information of monumental importance to the public, lying to obtain it is not ethical journalistic practice. There are, of course, differing ideas on how this dynamic unfolds. In 2011, Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard told TheBlaze that these rules do not apply to those outside of media.
“It’s dishonest for anyone in journalism to pretend to be someone they’re not. This rule doesn’t apply to folks outside the profession,” he said at the time.
But not everyone agrees with this assessment. Poynter has developed a list of standards for when it is — and is not — appropriate to use undercover tactics. And read more about TheBlaze’s exploration of undercover journalistic standards here.
What do you think about the video? Regardless of controversy, many continue to praise crisis centers as a saving grace for women looking for additional options.
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