Top House Dems: Drop Planned Parenthood investigations

Top House Dems: Drop Planned Parenthood investigations
© Planned Parenthood

The top Democrats on two committees investigating Planned Parenthood are calling on Republicans to drop the investigations, saying there is no evidence the organization has broken the law.

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Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.) wrote a letter to the chairmen of the Judiciary and Oversight committees on Thursday calling on them to call off the investigations, or at least expand it to include an inquiry into the anti-abortion-rights group behind the recent undercover videos. 

Cummings and Conyers write that while there is no evidence Planned Parenthood has broken the law, it appears that the group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), may have. 

“We call on you to halt these one-sided investigations immediately,” the pair wrote. “Millions of women across the country rely on Planned Parenthood for critical health services, and they should not be denied their rights under the law and the Constitution based on the Center for Medical Progress’s warped — and ultimately unsuccessful — effort to entrap Planned Parenthood.”  

They add that David Daleiden and his group could have broken laws related to recording people without their consent and misrepresenting the group on government forms. 

“Our committees are actively pursuing aggressive investigations of Planned Parenthood even though we have seen no credible evidence that the organization has done anything unlawful,” Cummings and Conyers write. “Yet, thus far our committees have taken no action whatsoever to investigate the potentially illegal actions of Mr. Daleiden and his group.”

The CMP has said it followed all applicable laws in the course of its work. 

The letter comes a day after the Judiciary Committee announced it will hold the first of a “series” of hearings on Planned Parenthood on Wednesday. 

The committee says it will hear from a panel of experts, and has titled the hearing “Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider." 

The hearings are just one part of what will be a September filled with activity around Planned Parenthood. Some conservatives are vowing to oppose any government funding bill that includes Planned Parenthood funds. Republican leaders are looking for ways to avert a showdown on the issue that could lead to a government shutdown. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw MORE (R-Ky.) has said that Republicans do not have the votes and that defunding the group will have to wait for a new president in 2017. 

Cummings and Conyers point to a letter to Congress last week when Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards detailed an analysis the group commissioned arguing that the undercover videos were deceptively edited.  

Planned Parenthood has apologized for the “tone” of officials in the videos candidly discussing the price of fetal tissue for medical research. But it strongly denies wrongdoing, saying legal compensation for expenses, not profit, is being discussed. 

In the letter to Congress, Richards said that Planned Parenthood sometimes, though rarely, alters the abortion procedure to facilitate the donation of fetal tissue for medical research. 

She pointed out that a federal law banning alterations does not apply to Planned Parenthood because it only applies to a subset of federally funded researchers, not abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. Still, Richards said the minor changes are always made “to achieve the woman’s desired result as safely as possible.”