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Oversight subpoenas unedited Planned Parenthood footage

Oversight subpoenas unedited Planned Parenthood footage
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The House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for hundreds of hours of secretly recorded footage of Planned Parenthood and its partners as part of an ongoing investigation into the use of fetal tissue donations.   

The panel announced legal action Tuesday to obtain footage from the Center for Medical Progress, which has been barred from releasing it because of a pending lawsuit by the National Abortion Federation.

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"Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation want to hide their activities from the American people. This subpoena is a demand for transparency,” Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzSenate passes dozens of bills on way out of town Oversight panel demands answers on Pentagon waste report Chaffetz: Congress will ‘absolutely’ look at 5B in waste at Pentagon MORE (R-Utah) wrote in a statement. He also said he plans to hold a hearing on the Planned Parenthood videos later this month, marking the House’s third hearing on the topic.

The Center for Medical Progress has released 10 videos targeting Planned Parenthood since this summer. The most recent, which included hidden camera conversations with several Planned Parenthood officials, was released Tuesday.

But it has been stymied from releasing footage from a specific event with the National Abortion Federation, which the anti-abortion advocates entered without permission.

A federal judge in California ruled in July that the Center for Medical Progress could not release footage of the abortion providers because it put their members in harm's way. The National Abortion Federation, which represents abortion providers including those at Planned Parenthood clinics, was granted a temporary restraining order.

The Oversight Committee is now demanding access to “all unedited video footage in their possession relating to the acquisition, preparation, and sale of fetal tissue.”

Planned Parenthood has also asked for the full footage to be released, arguing that the shorter clips have been deceptively edited.
 
“We've called for the full, untouched, unedited source video footage to be released, and we're glad the committee is asking for this, as well, because it will only show how heavily edited and deceptive these videos are," Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, wrote in a statement to The Hill. 
 
The Center for Medical Progress has previously condemned the judge's decision, promising to "contest any attempts to suppress our First Amendment rights to free speech or silence the freedom of the citizen press."

The clock is ticking for Republicans to find evidence of wrongdoing against Planned Parenthood, which would bolster their effort to defund the group through this fall’s government spending bill. Lawmakers have less than week to come up with a spending strategy, and so far have turned up no proof of illegal activity.

Three House committees, including Oversight, are investigating Planned Parenthood at the request of Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerNetanyahu: 'No question' about Trump's support for Israel The Hill's 12:30 Report Boehner compares Trump to Teddy Roosevelt MORE, who has said Congress needs facts before it can issue punishment against the provider.

Still, some Republicans have said they want to defund Planned Parenthood even if they never find proof of wrongdoing.

“I don’t know whether we’re ever going to be able to answer that question, whether it was illegal for them to do what they were doing,” Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said during the House’s first hearing on the topic last week. "I don’t know if it was illegal … but it was immoral, what was seen on that video."

—This story was updated at 6:13 p.m.