Republicans stoop low to attack Planned Parenthood
© Getty

Congressional Republicans are using every weapon in their arsenal – secretly filmed tapes, trumped-up state investigations, radical legislation, and political theater – to wage a battle on women’s access to healthcare and to abortion.  And now they are threatening to shut down the government just to deny funding to Planned Parenthood.

They know the facts aren’t on their side, and neither are the American people. That’s why they have stooped to new lows to promote their false narrative about Planned Parenthood. It’s now clear that they will do whatever it takes to defund and shutter America’s most trusted provider of women’s healthcare for nearly a century.


Last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to “examine” the “abortion practices” at Planned Parenthood, and this week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee had its their turn. But one look at their witness lists makes it clear these hearings are nothing more than a political circus.

Republicans have not called the doctors or patients of Planned Parenthood as witnesses. They have not used this time to ask questions of the men and women who provide or receive care in Planned Parenthood’s health centers.

These are hearings about the practices and procedures of Planned Parenthood, a subject about which not one witness has any credible knowledge. 

In short: if Republicans were seriously seeking answers to questions about health procedures, this is not the way to do it.

Republicans are - yet again - wasting taxpayers’ time and money with a political theatre masquerading as a legitimate hearing. The American people know that Congress is not a circus, and women’s health is not a sideshow.

The goal of these hearings is to give more credence to the widely discredited and highly edited tapes that the so-called Center for Medical Progress surreptitiously and possibly illegally filmed in Planned Parenthood health centers. A forensic report by three experts, including a former FBI trainer, shows that the Center for Medical Progress made as many as 42 splices in the footage and altered the meanings of many conversations. They had to in order to concoct a version of events in which Planned Parenthood did anything wrong.

The Congressional Republicans’ real motive is clear: they want to ban abortion in this country. They want to shut Planned Parenthood down and will ignore reality to do it – including the reality of these fraudulent tapes.

The reality is that one in five women will rely on Planned Parenthood for health care in their lifetime. They choose Planned Parenthood’s doctors because they trust the reliable care they provide. That’s a choice Republicans don’t trust women to make for themselves.

The reality is that abortion – like any medical procedure – can be hard to talk about, and hard to look at. That doesn’t make it wrong and it certainly doesn’t make it illegal. The reason those tapes were so jarring is because they didn’t sound like the Planned Parenthood so many women know and trust – CMP made sure of that in the editing room.

The reality is also that defunding Planned Parenthood would do nothing to decrease the demand for abortion. Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away cancer screenings, birth control, and sex education programs. It would undo the work Planned Parenthood has done to bring the teen pregnancy rate down to a 40-year low.

If Planned Parenthood had to close even some of its health centers’ doors it would leave many lower-income women and men without access to care. More than half of its health centers are in rural or medically-underserved areas and their closure would leave their patients with no other options. While community health centers play a critical role in our nation’s public health, they do not have the capacity to absorb all of Planned Parenthood’s patients, especially overnight.

We’ve seen what happens when Planned Parenthood health centers are targeted. We’ve seen it in Texas, where funding cuts left 250,000 women without access to services. We’ve seen it in Indiana where Scott County is facing an HIV outbreak after its Planned Parenthood clinics were shut down. What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that over at least 630,000 patients could lose access to reproductive services like birth control and STD screenings if Planned Parenthood loses federal funding.

Defunding Planned Parenthood does nothing to limit demand for services. Planned Parenthood provides important women's health care and is being unfairly targeted in a political battle.

Planned Parenthood sent a letter to Congress detailing their practices and procedures. If Republicans truly have questions left unanswered by that letter they should ask them of the experts, not of their political witnesses.   And they should stop this campaign that the American people have made clear they don't want and stop putting the health of Americans at risk.

Schakowsky has represented Illinois’ 9th Congressional District since 1999. She sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.