The Memphis District Attorney's Office is reviewing whether to launch an investigation into a local Planned Parenthood clinic after an undercover video from a pro-life group purportedly exposed a clinic employee covering up a case of statutory rape.
LiveAction, an organization based in California, sent an unedited version of the footage to Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons and the state Attorney General for review last week.
"Gen. Gibbons has assigned one of the prosecutors in our Grand Jury section to review the video to determine if the matter warrants any further investigation," says DA Office spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals.
The hidden-camera video shows Lila Rose, 20, president of the non-profit Live Action, entering Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) posing as a 14-year-old who was impregnated by her 31-year-old boyfriend.
The clinic employee coaches Rose to lie about the age of her boyfriend before a judge in order to obtain a judicial bypass of Tennessee's parental consent law for abortion.
LiveAction has accused PPGMR of violating a Tennessee law that requires health professionals to report suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement immediately.
"Telling a little girl lie to a judge so that a statutory rapist goes undetected is a serious offense, yet Planned Parenthood representatives have remained indifferent and full of excuses since the video was released," said Rose, a student at UCLA.
State legislators have cited the tape to support a proposed bill to divert taxpayer subsidies from Planned Parenthood. The measure passed a state House of Representatives Health and Human Resources sub-Committee on Monday.
"Planned Parenthood cannot expect to receive taxpayer money when it undercuts Tennessee's system of protection for children," Rose added.
PPGMR CEO Barry Chase has stated in an e-mail to state legislators that the clinic "absolutely did not violate any laws."
In the e-mail letter dated April 24, Chase identified the employee heard in the video as neither a counselor nor an intake worker but a Spanish interpreter. He wrote that she has not been employee at the clinic since October of last year.
He claimed that patients are usually routed to a professional counselor but noted that Rose came in a very crowded day.
Chase said his organization has requested an unedited version of the film from LiveAction but has received no response.
LiveAction denied ever receiving a request from Planned Parenthood regarding the footage. The full footage has now been made public on LiveAction.org and YouTube.
Rose also wrote to state lawmakers in response to Chase's letter.
"Mr. Chase tries to pass blame by claiming that the employee in the video...was not properly trained," said Rose in the letter.
"The question at hand, however, concerns not whether some or any employees at Planned Parenthood are properly trained, but whether they are practicing, in private counseling sessions, the same policies that they profess to the public."
She added, "It is all the more troubling to think that even a novice counselor at Planned Parenthood would know to recommend this law-evasion strategy. How prevalent must law-evasion be at Planned Parenthood clinics when even the 'interpreters' are implicated?"
In recent months, LiveAction has sent similar footage of undercover investigations at five other Planned Parenthood clinics in Arizona and Indiana to respective state prosecutors.
The group says PPGMR is the sixth clinic it has recorded that manipulates the law and covers up sexual abuse.
Live Action filmed the hidden-camera footage as part of its Mona Lisa Project, which shows Planned Parenthood employees as they respond negligently to reports of statutory rape and offer secret abortions instead.