The videos Republicans are using to try to defund Planned Parenthood don’t show what they claim the show. We have all known this since they came out. There is nothing illegal in them, and they were edited misleadingly. But Democrats felt compelled to investigate anyway, with bipartisan briefings no less.
The Energy and Commerce Committee has an on-going investigation into the matter and today Committee Democratic staff released an in-depth memo which “clearly discredits” the Republican claims that Planned Parenthood allegedly sold fetal tissue for profit. There is no evidence of this at all.
From the memo (my emphasis):
This memorandum serves as an update on the Committee’s ongoing investigation into claims regarding the alleged sale of fetal tissue by affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) to tissue procurement organizations (TPOs). The review has included bipartisan briefings by Planned Parenthood officials as well as representatives from StemExpress, Novogenix Laboratories, and Advanced Bioscience Resources – three TPOs that partner with Planned Parenthood affiliates and other healthcare providers to collect specimens to supply to researchers working with fetal tissue.
In addition to these briefings, the Committee has received documents and written responses to a series of questions it posed in writing to PPFA regarding its “practices relating to fetal tissue collection and sale or donation.” To date, the Committee has received no evidence to substantiate the allegations that Planned Parenthood has engaged in the sale of fetal tissue for profit. Furthermore, the Committee has received no evidence to support the allegations that fetal tissue was procured without consent, that Planned Parenthood physicians altered the timing, method, or procedure of an abortion solely for the purposes of obtaining fetal tissue, or that Planned Parenthood physicians performed intact dilation and evacuation in order to preserve fetal tissue for research. Thus far, the investigation has revealed that PPFA requires all affiliates to ensure compliance with all state and federal laws and that specific PPFA guidance requires affiliates to ensure that reimbursement for fetal tissue is limited to actual costs.
And they found nothing. There is zero evidence that any laws were broken. Zilch.
“Over the last month, we have carefully reviewed the facts at hand and the materials provided to us as a result of the majority’s inquiry,” said full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO). “Despite the incendiary rhetoric, we have looked strictly at the facts. We are continuing to do our due diligence, but we have found these claims to be unsubstantiated. Instead, these attacks appear to be part of a coordinated campaign on the part of the Center for Medical Progress and others, to simply discredit Planned Parenthood and undermine a woman’s legal right to safe reproductive health care.”
Yes, this is a Democratic Committee, but Democrats are usually the first to turn on their own, so that’s not a solid argument against the findings. What is a solid argument is that this entire thing has been done the wrong way. We shouldn’t be wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and facing yet another Republican shutdown showdown over a made up, fictional, non-existent issue.
We shouldn’t have to investigate unsubstantiated claims to prove they are not true. This is, quite simply, ridiculous.
This is the old “When did you stop beating your wife” set up. It’s supposed to work the other way around. Accusations and investigations should be based on some evidence that something is amiss.
Meanwhile, just yesterday the Guttmacher Institute destroyed the Republican argument that after they defund Planned Parenthood, the sole safety-net provider of contraceptive care in some areas and also the provider of cancer screening and other important health care, other providers would fill the hole. In fact, they say, “credible evidence suggests this is unlikely.”
So what you have here is Republicans investigating the agency that is doing the most of any agency or organization to actually reduce abortions by offering birth control to women. They are doing this over a claim that was never substantiated by the videos their activist arm released. Even after the videos were discredited, Republicans began “investigating” Planned Parenthood with an eye to defund them completely.
ForAmerica, a conservative group whose head endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz — the guy set to pull yet another shutdown self-aggrandizement stunt, is calling on Republican 2016 candidates to have the DOJ investigate Planned Parenthood, and vow to defund them.
All of this is over an issue that is not happening, and if done will result in MORE abortions. Republicans are banking on the gut reaction people will have to the term “fetal tissue”, but they ignore that fetal tissue is a critical tool for biomedical research. The report cites the Department of Health and Human Services on this issue, “fetal tissue continues to be a critical resource for important efforts such as research on degenerative eye disease, human development disorders such as Down syndrome, and infectious diseases, among a host of other diseases.”
Perhaps Republicans should tell voters exactly what research they want to cancel.
It’s another Republican O’keefe style hack hit job meant to make headlines on Fox News and incite conservatives. It has done these things, but the claims are also completely unsubstantiated, which is awkward when a party is threatening to shut down the government over them.
Republicans clearly can’t handle doing actual work, they are more comfortable with manufactured investigations and trying to control women than they are with the real work of Congress. Someone should be investigating the alleged coordination behind these videos and when Republicans knew about them and why they waited to release them, but that won’t happen because Republicans would never investigate themselves. They leave things like self-negating integrity to the Democrats.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.