Tuesday's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood was interesting.
The real value of the hearing was that, unlike when Richards appears on TV, this time she was under oath. That yielded several admissions.
First, Planned Parenthood often says that abortions are only 3 percent of the services they offer. The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" has given this dubious claim "three Pinocchios." When Richards was asked to divide the number of patients Planned Parenthood saw last year by the number of abortions, the answer was 12 percent. Even more amazingly, when federal funds are exempted, 86 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenue comes from abortions.
Second, Richards and Planned Parenthood advocates regularly claim that women receive mammograms at Planned Parenthood facilities — as she did on CNN in 2011, to give one example. Asked by freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) if Planned Parenthood facilities offer mammograms, Richards admitted they don't. None of the 650 to 700 facilities offer mammograms, nor do they even have the equipment.
Third, Rep. Diane BlackDiane BlackHouse approves bill to shield anti-abortion healthcare workers Conscience rights under threat in US HHS chief meets with House Republicans on abortion dispute MORE (R-Tenn.), the author of the bill to end taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood by shifting the funding to community health centers, asked Richards to explain her claim that her bill would block access for women's health. Community health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities by at least tenfold, and they offer additional services like mammograms that Planned Parenthood does not offer. Richards had no real answer.
Fourth, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) asked the single most interesting question of the day: If federal funds do not go to abortion services, would ending federal funding reduce abortion services? He cleverly caught Richards in a trap. Admit that federal funding goes to abortion, and Planned Parenthood is violating federal law. Admit that ending federal funding doesn't reduce abortion services, and you undercut the defense of Planned Parenthood's funding. She had no real answer and was clearly stumped.
There were other interesting moments:
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked Richards to explain why she apologized for the "tone and statements" seen in the videos, if Planned Parenthood had done nothing wrong. She had no serious answer.
- Richards also said, under oath, that no baby had ever been born alive and then aborted at a Planned Parenthood facility, a claim that was directly contradicted by recent witness testimony in front of the same committee.
- After repeatedly claiming that Planned Parenthood was a nonprofit, Richards admitted that, in 2014, her organization had $127 million in excess revenue after expenses (what normal people call a "profit.")
- Richards also admitted that Planned Parenthood spent $40 million on travel and parties, which breaks down to $13,000 a day.
Planned Parenthood regularly claims that the hidden camera videos that were released were "selectively edited," but two forensic examinations found that to be false. As The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway reported, both forensic reports, including one commissioned by Planned Parenthood, "assert that there is no dubbing or alteration to the audio and no evidence of misrepresentative editing."
Tuesday was not a good day for Planned Parenthood. Its boss had to admit a number of things that contradicted her previous public statements and undercut her defense of the organization's practices.
Mackowiak is syndicated columnist; an Austin, Texas-based Republican consultant; and a former Capitol Hill and George W. Bush administration aide.