- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2017

A unified Republican government is poised to slash hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood’s annual budget — the culmination of a public relations nightmare 18 months in the making that has left the nation’s largest abortion provider more vulnerable than ever to pro-life advances.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said Thursday that the budget reconciliation legislation to repeal Obamacare will include a provision to remove Planned Parenthood from the taxpayer dole.

Mr. Ryan issued his statement one day after a House committee released a 418-page report detailing Planned Parenthood’s complicity in the illicit sale of body parts from abortions for profit.

Meanwhile, several Republican-led states are preparing to restrict abortions. Kentucky lawmakers last week passed legislation to ban abortions 20 weeks after conception, when the fetus is believed to be able to feel pain. Other states, including Virginia, plan to introduce similar bills this year, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed such a bill into law last month.

Clarke Forsythe, acting president of Americans United for Life, said Planned Parenthood has never been in more danger of losing its taxpayer-funded status in the nearly half-century that it has performed abortions.

“I can’t remember any time in the past 44 years, since Roe v. Wade, that Planned Parenthood has been as vulnerable to state and federal funding cuts as now,” Mr. Forsythe said.

The reconciliation process allows legislation to bypass a Senate filibuster and pass by a simple majority vote. The fast-track bill could come up for a vote as early as next month.

The case for defunding Planned Parenthood was bolstered last week when the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives released its final report. It recommended that Congress redirect Planned Parenthood’s more than $500 million in annual funding toward women’s health clinics that do not perform abortions.

“The Panel recommends Planned Parenthood lose all federal funding, including reimbursements for Medicaid services,” the report concluded. “Further, grants no longer available to Planned Parenthood should be awarded to healthcare providers that provide comprehensive preventative healthcare for their patients and that do not perform abortions.”

The panel was established 15 months ago to investigate Planned Parenthood and others in the market for fetal tissue from abortions. It reported that it found evidence of wrongdoing by several Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Most notably, the final report said Planned Parenthood may have illicitly profited from the sale of fetal tissue from abortions — the central accusation made by pro-life activists in a series of undercover videos released a year and a half ago.

Planned Parenthood repeatedly has denied that accusation, claiming any costs associated with the fetal tissue trade were reimbursements for storage and shipping expenses.

The abortion giant refused to comply with a congressional request for accounting documents that could have confirmed that claim, the report said.

The panel relied on financial disclosures from StemExpress, a fetal tissue procurement firm that ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood after the videos surfaced. Those documents showed StemExpress and Planned Parenthood claimed the same expenses associated with the trade for fetal tissue.

“Accounting documents from a tissue procurement company, StemExpress, and its bank reveal substantial payments to Planned Parenthood clinics,” the report said. “Some expenses associated with fetal tissue donation — like storage and preservation — are allowed under federal regulations, but the Panel’s analysis of these accounting records found that both StemExpress and Planned Parenthood claimed the same expenses.”

The panel made 15 criminal and regulatory referrals in total. It recommended Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general for criminal investigation to determine whether the abortion provider violated federal and Texas state law by selling fetal tissue to the University of Texas.

Four Planned Parenthood clinics that partnered with tissue procurement firm Novogenix, including Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, also were referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal investigation.

An employee of the Los Angeles affiliate told the panel that she met with Novogenix employees prior to performing abortions to determine the demand for different types of fetal tissue.

“I would ask her what tissue she was looking for, yes,” the employee told the panel.

The final report also found evidence that “some abortion providers altered abortion procedures in a manner that substitutes patient welfare with a financial benefit for both the abortion clinic and the procurement business,” in violation of federal law.

Democratic members of the panel denounced the final report’s findings as “illegitimate.”

“They have repeatedly made false claims, including a series of ‘criminal referrals,’ to federal, state and local law enforcement officials based on unsourced, unverified documents and information,” said Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky of Illinois, the panel’s ranking Democrat.

The congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood dovetailed off of the undercover video investigation conducted by the Center for Medical Progress.

The center released 11 videos in 2015 recorded by journalists posing as employees of a fake fetal tissue procurement firm. The three-year-long investigation, spearheaded by David Daleiden, featured recorded conversations with staff-level employees and executives at Planned Parenthood discussing the transfer of fetal tissue from abortions.

Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said those videos were “invaluable to exposing the profound horror of what happens inside Planned Parenthood clinics and their involvement in the harvesting of fetal organs.”

“The pro-life movement and all Americans who value freedom of conscience and don’t want to be a part of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business owe the Center for Medical Progress and David Daleiden a debt of gratitude,” Ms. Quigley said.

The undercover investigation coincided with and contributed to Republican electoral victories across the board in November, giving the party unified government and the once-in-a-generation opportunity to implement pro-life policy unimpeded.

Mr. Forsythe said the pro-life movement can’t afford to squander this opportunity.

“I think that pro-life Americans need to be vigilant day by day, week by week, month by month in 2017, or their policies will be ignored.”

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