- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

The latest House hearing on Planned Parenthood Thursday frequently devolved into passionate speeches as Democrats sought to shift the hearing’s focus to issues like gun violence, voting rights or immigration, and Republicans recounted the “gruesome” practice of aborting unborn children — and selling their body parts to researchers.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee insisted the hearing was “political theater,” and Republicans, state officials and others had yet to find any credible evidence Planned Parenthood had committed any wrongdoing.

This “entire farce is knowingly based on lies,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York Democrat.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, replied that undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) had raised sufficient concerns about Planned Parenthood and its fetal-tissue harvesting operations to warrant an investigation to see if “more laws are needed” to protect the unborn.

Several committees in the House and Senate are looking into such things as how Planned Parenthood handles its finances, especially its recompense in fetal-tissue donation; whether abortions are illegally tailored to permit harvesting of high-value fetal body parts; whether women are properly asked about donating their fetuses for research; and whether illegal infanticides have taken place.

At one point, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee successfully forced a committee vote to strip an undercover Live Action video from the hearing record, since that pro-life video wasn’t recorded in a Planned Parenthood clinic.

As Republican members of the committee quickly gathered, a follow-up vote was taken that returned the video to the testimony of Dr. Anthony Levantino, a former abortionist who gave graphic testimony about “absolutely gruesome” abortion procedures.

In fact, dueling videos figured in the lengthy hearing: Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, introduced a video of footage he said was omitted in CMP’s released videos. In these segments, Planned Parenthood executive Dr. Deborah Nucatola said their fetal-tissue donation program was not “some new revenue stream” and “nobody should be selling tissue.”

Republicans aired a CMP video segment showing Planned Parenthood technicians picking through fetal organs in a glass pie plate described as “five stars,” and discussing “per-item” recompense for organs. It’s “another boy!” one technician announced on the video.

Witness Susan Thayer, who worked for Planned Parenthood in Iowa for 17 years, said the organization viewed a woman’s body as “a profit center.” She talked about her whistleblower lawsuit, where she claims Planned Parenthood filed false claims for $28 million in Iowa Medicaid funds for dispensing “medically unnecessary” contraceptives to clients, illegally billing the state for abortion-related services, and “coercing” poor women to pay for their Medicaid-paid procedures.

Luana Stoltenberg, who was rendered infertile by her three abortions, testified for herself and hundreds of other women who have filed legal documents about the pain and suffering that resulted from “safe” abortions.

Legal expert Caroline Fredrickson, who has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and NARAL Pro-Choice America, testified about the millions of services Planned Parenthood provides women, and the inadmissibility of the “selectively edited” CMP videos to any legal case against the abortion giant.

Democrats seized on Ms. Fredrickson’s testimony to dismiss the CMP videos and Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Instead of pointlessly pursuing the organization, several members said, the committee should be pursuing gun control, voting rights or immigration reform.

Republicans said the CMP videos showed that unborn human beings were being subjected to “brutal” treatment and reduced “to commodities.” Several also stated that in their states, if Planned Parenthood were defunded and its federal dollars sent to federally qualified health centers, low-income women, men and families would be able to receive full health care services, not just reproductive services.

In addition to the House Judiciary Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are investigating Planned Parenthood. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, are conducting investigations as well.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America officials, including president Cecile Richards, who testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Sept. 29, have consistently denied any wrongdoing, and said the CMP videos are just the latest attempt by abortion opponents to entrap the organization.

Separately, on Wednesday, the House voted 242-184 to set up a select committee to investigate whether Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are following the law when harvesting fetal tissue for research.

Planned Parenthood receives some $524 million in federal and state funding each year.

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