Planned Parenthood reportedly hacked: New protest tactic?

A cyberattack has become the latest act of resistance against the group.

Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP
Mary Roy, of Potosi, Mo., holds a rosary in support of a pro-life rally, July 21, outside a Planned Parenthood building in St. Louis. Anti-abortion activists on Tuesday released a second undercover video aimed at discrediting Planned Parenthood's procedures for providing fetal tissue to researchers.

Anti-abortion activists have hacked Planned Parenthood’s website, gaining access to its online database and employee information, according to the group.

The organization has turned to the FBI and the Department of Justice for help with its cybersecurity issues. Meanwhile, the hackers, self-proclaimed “social justice warriors” are threatening to release the company’s internal emails, the Daily Dot reported.

Planned Parenthood has faced criticism since two videos were leaked earlier this month that the organization's critics say show it illicitly sells aborted fetal tissue for medical research.

Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens did not say whether or not the hack attempt was successful, but emphasized the potential risk to Planned Parenthood employees.

"Extremists have broken laws, harassed our doctors and patients, produced hack videos, and now are claiming to have committed a gross invasion of privacy – one that, if true, could potentially put our staff members at risk," she said in a statement.

Since the release of the videos, conservatives have launched an effort in Congress to revoke Planned Parenthood’s $500 million a year in federal funding. Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul fast-tracked legislation to halt funding last week. House majority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) of California said Monday at a news conference Congress should immediately de-fund the group while investigations are underway.

"These are serious questions and regardless of where anybody stands on the issue, knowing the doubt of what's going on here, is this a place that tax dollars should be spent?" he said.

Planned Parenthood maintains it has never done anything illegal, and said the videos – covertly recorded by anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress – are part of a larger campaign against the organization and against abortion rights.

The Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann wrote last year on the 41st anniversary of the abortion rights precedent-setting Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade:

A wave of state laws in recent years has added new regulations to the practice of abortion, mostly in Republican-leaning states, as well as in some political battlegrounds. Some clinics have closed, and courts have fielded numerous legal challenges, some of which could reach the Supreme Court – an opportunity, abortion foes hope, to chip away at or even overturn [Roe v. Wade] and other abortion precedents.  

Since 1990, when abortions in the United States peaked at 1.6 million, the annual number has declined to about 1.1 million, another data point for which abortion opponents claim credit.”

Anti-Planned Parenthood rallies are also taking place around the country, including one in Las Vegas later today.

This report contains material from Reuters.

[Editor's note: The original version of this article misidentified what Planned Parenthood opponents say the group was making available for medical research.]

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