Planned Parenthood Claims Cyber Attack

Opponents apparently have opened a new front in their attacks on Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). A week after a California nonprofit released stealth videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing selling human fetal tissue, the organization said it was the victim of a cyber attack that briefly disabled its website.

“Today, the Planned Parenthood websites experienced a wide scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, a hacker tactic to overwhelm websites with massive amounts of traffic to block any legitimate traffic from getting in,” Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a nearly 400-word statement released yesterday.

“At Planned Parenthood, we treat matters of safety and security with the utmost importance, and are taking every measure possible to mitigate any criminal efforts to undermine our mission and services. Although our websites were back online shortly after the attack, in order to ensure that we are fully protected, we’ve made the decision to take our website offline for a day. We’ll be redirecting visitors to our Facebook pages during that time,” the statement read in part.

The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), a network of groups that help pay for abortions, also said via Twitter that its site was hit with a DDOs/DoS attack. “Please bear with us, and some funds whose sites we host, as we work to get it back online,” according to an NNAF Tweet (@AbortionFunds) this morning.

At noon Eastern today, a direct visit to www.plannedparenthood.org site yielded this message: “Our site is currently undergoing maintenance. Below you will find information to help you find a Planned Parenthood health center, book an appointment, and get involved with Planned Parenthood.”

A visit through a link in a story on CNN.com directed to a page that looked similar but featured a different message: “Our site is not available due to an attack by extremists. 2000,000 people a day are now being blocked from information and care by this attack,” and directing visitors to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s (PPAF) Facebook page.

By 2 p.m., the site was no longer directing visitors to the PPAF Facebook page and only the “undergoing maintenance” message was displayed.

An inquiry to the Planned Parenthood media relations office seeking clarification on the different messages was directed to the portion of its statement regarding “treating matters of safety and security with the utmost importance.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) last week released videos in which Planned Parenthood officials are seen discussing selling human tissue from abortions. CMP is an Irvine, Calif.-based nonprofit that describes itself as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics advances.” Planned Parenthood has denied the accusations, saying that its donation programs follow all laws and ethical guidelines just as other health care providers do.