House GOP: Planned Parenthood probes ‘must continue’
House Republicans are not letting up in their investigations of Planned Parenthood, after the group announced Tuesday it is ending its controversial practice of accepting compensation for fetal tissue donations.
Top Republicans, like House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), are seizing on Planned Parenthood’s policy change as a “good, tangible result” of the investigations. But he and others said it’s not enough to end the inquiries.
“Significant questions still remain about Planned Parenthood’s finances,” Chaffetz, a candidate for Speaker, wrote in a statement.
“I’m glad to see Planned Parenthood is finally recognizing the need to end this disgusting practice,” added Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), vice chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is leading a separate investigation.
“However, there are still many questions yet to be answered surrounding Planned Parenthood’s business practices and relationships with the procurement organizations. This is exactly why the House is investigating abortion practices and how we can better protect life.”
Planned Parenthood has been under investigation since August after anti-abortion activists released videos accusing several clinics of trying to profit from fetal tissue that is donated for medical research. The health provider has forcefully denied the claims, arguing that the money it receives from procurement companies is only used to cover Planned Parenthood’s expenses.
Only one affiliate in the U.S. still received compensation before the policy change was announced. Still, conservatives say Planned Parenthood’s move adds fuel to the allegations.
“It is curious that, while Planned Parenthood officials maintain there has been no wrongdoing, they still find it necessary to change their policy following the recent undercover videos,” said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who has helped lead the push against Planned Parenthood in the House.
She also blasted the decision as one “motivated by optics rather than the organization’s conscience” — arguing that Planned Parenthood’s larger offense is allowing abortions to take place in its clinics.
“Cecile Richards’ letter is right about one thing: the fight against Planned Parenthood is not just about its use of fetal tissue. It is about how we treat a human life and how we ensure that the conscience rights of American taxpayers are respected,” Black wrote in her statement.
“This is a fight we must continue,” she added.
Already, the videos from The Center for Medical Progress have prompted investigations by four congressional committees. The House also voted last week to create a special investigative panel, to be led by Blackburn, which will have its own committee staff and budget to deepen its probe.
That panel does not yet have members, and a spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who will have a say in deciding its makeup, did not respond to requests for comment.
Another House Republican, Rep. Kevin Yoder (Kan.), is using Tuesday’s announcement as a push for his legislation that would ban any organization from receiving compensation for fetal tissue procurement.
Congress now has “seemingly no excuse” not to pass the Prohibiting the Life-Ending Industry of Fetal Organ Exchange (Pro-LIFE) Act, a spokesman for Yoder said Tuesday. “Planned Parenthood now even seems to agree with our position we’ve had since July and shared by 60 other members.”