- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fifty senators from both sides of the aisle have acted quickly after the release of two undercover videos revealing Planned Parenthood officials referencing the harvesting and sale of fetal tissue for profit. Sen. Joni Ernst, who organized the effort, has 50 signatures on a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, seeking an investigation of the dismal practice.

“The footage raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions. In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy — sometimes even later than 5 months — that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested,” the senators write.

The group calls for a “thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood — one of the Department’s grantees — with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements.”

Ms. Ernst is earnest, noting, “As a defender of life, I remain committed to getting these answers, because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.”

David Daleiden, executive director of the Center for Medical Progress, which produced the damning videos, offers his own reality check about Planned Parenthood.



“They will attack me and my organization all day long, but that does not change the facts about what our investigation has uncovered and what the American people now know — that Planned Parenthood is engaged in an enterprisewide operation that traffics and sells baby body parts,” he says.

BROADCASTERS GIVE A PASSING NOD

Did broadcasters blanket the nation with reports about the aforementioned videos? The big three networks gave them just a glance. ABC, CBS and NBC allowed a skimpy total of 9 minutes and 11 seconds of coverage of the matter during the entire week following the first release of the footage, says Katie Yoder, an analyst for the Media Research Center.

“What’s interesting in the latest Planned Parenthood scandal is that presidential candidates and congressional representatives have called to defund the organization. Of course, had the networks covered that more, they would have had to explain why,” Ms. Yoder notes.

“ABC, NBC and CBS still skewed the coverage that they did have. In their reporting of the Center for Medical Progress’ videos, all three censored the word ‘baby,’ and instead used the term ‘fetal tissue.’ Similarly, from the beginning of their coverage, ABC, NBC and CBS labeled the makers of the videos as ‘anti-abortion activists’ rather than use the ‘pro-life’ label,” the analyst says.

CHECK THAT RESERVATION

“The luxury holiday home loved by Barack Obama has gone on sale for $22.5 million. The six bedroom holiday-home is majestically perched 120 feet above the Atlantic Ocean on Martha’s Vineyard’s Gold Coast in one of the most exclusive locations in the United States. Obama and his family plan to visit again this August — assuming the property has not been sold beforehand.”

— From an account by features writer Darren Boyle in the Daily Mail.

LUNCH AMID THE GREENERY

Attractive women adorned in lettuce bikinis will dole out free veggie dogs — whoops, make that “vegan frankfurters” — outside the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill at high noon on Thursday. Well, OK, the ladies hail from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and this particular method of activism has been going on for years. But they remain enthusiastic.

“We want to let policymakers in on why the answer to the stress of Capitol Hill just might be a veggie dog,” says Melissa Lacher, the lead lettuce lady, who advises that the veggie dogs in question contain roughly a third of the fat and calories of their “fleshy counterparts.”

And just in case you wonder, here’s the official ingredient list from Fire Roast, the Seattle-based manufacturer: “Filtered water, vital wheat gluten, expeller pressed safflower oil, organic expeller pressed palm fruit oil, barley malt, naturally flavored yeast extract, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, paprika, sea salt, onions, spices, whole wheat flour, garlic, natural liquid smoke, caraway, celery seed, ground yellow mustard, paprika oleoresin.” Each dog has 180 calories, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 690 milligrams of salt.

CONSERVATIVES WITH CONVICTIONS

They meet for lunch on Capitol Hill Thursday: That would be “Conservatives with Convictions,” who describe themselves as conservatives willing to push for reform of the “failing criminal justice system.” At the podium: Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations; David Keene, opinion editor of The Washington Times; Pat Nolan, director of the American Conservative Union Foundation Center for Criminal Justice Reform; Bernard Kerik, former New York City Police Commissioner; and Kevin Ring, former staffer for Sen. John Ashcroft and a former colleague of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Mr. Ring served 15 months in federal prison.

The group’s mission: “For more than 40 years, conservatives have been associated with ‘get tough’ anti-crime policies, including stiff mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Today, however, a new generation of conservative leaders is promoting a new approach that is tough on crime without being tough on taxpayers. Right-leaning governors and state legislators have championed reforms that have reduced both crime and prison populations at the same time.”

POLL DU JOUR

56 percent of Americans say it’s more important for the government to protect religious liberties if there is a conflict between a wedding-related business and a same-sex couple; 39 percent say protecting the rights of gays and lesbians is more important.

52 percent of Americans say wedding businesses with religious objections to same-sex marriage should be allowed to refuse service; 45 percent disagree.

49 percent say that local officials who have religious objections to same-sex marriage should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses; 47 percent say they should be required to issue them.

42 percent approve same-sex couples to be legally married in their state: 40 percent oppose it, and 16 percent neither favor or oppose it.

41 percent disapprove of the Supreme Court decision ruling state bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional; 39 percent approve, and 18 percent neither approve or disapprove.

Source: An AP/GFK poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted July 9-13.

Balderdash and ballyhoo to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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