Lawmakers clash over showing Planned Parenthood videos in hearing

Lawmakers clash over showing Planned Parenthood videos in hearing

Republicans and Democrats clashed over the showing of undercover Planned Parenthood videos at a committee hearing Thursday, with Democrats accusing the majority of using unreliable, heavily edited videos as evidence. 

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee showed clips from the controversial videos during a hearing on two bills aimed at tightening abortion laws. 

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the panel, called the showing of the videos “a new low for this committee.”

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“These are presented as if they have some evidentiary value,” Pallone added of the videos. “The fact is they have no evidentiary value.”

Rep. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenTexas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE (D-Texas) told Republicans “this is unprecedented what you’ve done,” saying they were using “doctored evidence” in a congressional hearing. 

Democrats say the videos, which show officials discussing fetal tissue for medical research, are heavily edited to create the impression that Planned Parenthood is profiting off fetal tissue. The organization says officials are only discussing legal compensation for expenses. 

Subcommittee chairman Joe PittsJoseph (Joe) R. PittsProgress in the fight against human trafficking Pitts op-ed misses mark on Democrat 'betrayals' over ObamaCare Lawmakers considering ObamaCare replacement: learn from 10 anti abortion betrayals MORE (R-Pa.) defended the use of the videos. 

“It frankly give me chills to think about how someone could even think about removing their organs, and so these clips have shown the gruesome reality we’re talking about,” Pitts said. “They’re available in the public domain.”

The hearing concerned two bills to tighten enforcement of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which looked to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which outlawed a controversial form of late-term abortion. 

The new measures would allow states who suspect health providers of violating these laws to cut the providers out of receiving Medicaid funds.

“These are commonsense measures to help ensure laws are being followed,” committee chairman Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonOvernight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine The 8 Republicans who voted against Trump's anti-ObamaCare push House condemns Trump's latest anti-ObamaCare push MORE (R-Mich.) said. “If healthcare providers break the law, of course they should be banned from federal health programs.”

Democrats countered that the bill would allow providers to be cut off from funding if they are only “suspected” of violating existing laws, which they said was too low of a standard that did not allow for due process. 

The measures are being considered as Republican leaders look to avert a government shutdown over defunding Planned Parenthood through the spending bill, and are looking for alternative ways to register anti-abortion-rights sentiment.  

The committee’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is still ongoing, Republicans said, despite Democrats saying there is no evidence of wrongdoing. 

Upton said there are still witnesses to whom the committee has not yet had access.