- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015

Two top House Democrats urged Republican committee chairs Thursday to halt their probes into Planned Parenthood’s alleged fetal tissue abuses — or at least conduct a co-investigation into the pro-life Center for Medical Progress.

Democratic Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking members of two House committees now investigating Planned Parenthood, described the committees actions as “one-sided” and asked the Republican chairmen to “suspend” the investigation.

“However, if you choose to move forward, we request that our committees also investigate the actions of David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress,” said the two Democrats in their Thursday letter.

The letter was addressed to Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The involvement of the top-ranking Democrats comes with Planned Parenthood under fire in the wake of nine undercover videos raising alarm about its involvement in procuring fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.

In response, Planned Parenthood has moved to focus the attention on the California-based pro-life organization and whether it broke any privacy laws in obtaining the footage, a theme echoed by the Democratic congressmen in their letter.

Mr. Daleiden and his organization may have violated a host of state and federal laws, including laws against filing false documents with government agencies, falsely impersonating a legitimate business concern, soliciting charitable contributions under false pretenses, and secretly recording Planned Parenthood officials without their consent,” said the Democrats’ letter.

Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, responded Thursday by calling on Congress to “stop shooting the proverbial messenger.”

She cited a 28-page legal analysis released last week by her organization making the case that Planned Parenthood may have broken as many as a half-dozen federal laws, based on evidence provided by the center’s undercover videos.

“As Americans United for Life’s legal team has demonstrated in our analysis to Congress, six legal issues have been raised by the images in the CMP videos,” said Ms. Yoest in a statement. “It’s time to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for what they are doing with almost half a billion dollars of taxpayer money each year, rather than waste resources castigating those who revealed troubling images of trafficking in infant body parts.”

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens blasted the center in a Thursday statement, saying that, “as we’ve said all along, these outrageous claims, and the credibility of the group behind them, fall apart upon closer inspection.”

Despite Planned Parenthood’s call for more scrutiny on the center, so far only California Attorney General Kamala Harris has agreed to conduct an investigation into the group’s actions in obtaining the video footage.

The Democrat Harris, who’s seeking the 2016 Senate nomination, is a longtime Planned Parenthood supporter.

Last week, Rep. Diana DeGette, Colorado Democrat, called on the Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee to demand the release of the “full, unedited video footage,” accusing the center of releasing videos “used to distort and misrepresent the actions of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates.”

Mr. Daleiden said in an Aug. 27 letter to congressional leaders that the center is “committed to supporting the Committees’ ongoing investigations to the best of our ability.”

He also said the center is “ready to provide original recordings to law enforcement and to Congress to the extent we are lawfully able to,” but noted that some of the footage has been hit with a temporary restraining order forbidding its release in response to a request by the National Abortion Federation.

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