Groups demand Ryan halt Planned Parenthood investigation

Groups demand Ryan halt Planned Parenthood investigation
© Greg Nash

Dozens of liberal-leaning advocacy groups are demanding that GOP leaders immediately halt their probe into Planned Parenthood, which they argue sets a "dangerous precedent" for congressional investigations.  

In a scathing letter sent Monday, the groups urge Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE (R-Wis.) to disband the 10-month investigation that they claim exists solely for political purposes. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We believe the panel's actions offend basic standards of fairness and respect for the rights of American citizens," the groups wrote in a letter provided to The Hill.

Republicans formed the House Select Panel on Infant Lives last fall in the wake of viral, secretly recorded videos alleging Planned Parenthood had illegally profited from fetal tissue donations.

More than a year later, no officials at Planned Parenthood or its partner organizations have been charged with a crime. State investigations have also come up empty; a grand jury in Texas chose to indict two of the makers of the videos instead.

Few of the groups that signed onto the letter are related to fetal tissue research, or even healthcare broadly, but many are allies of Democrats. The letter was signed by the Sierra Club; civil rights groups such as the NAACP and Human Rights Campaign; unions like the SEIU, AFSCME and Communication Workers of America; and watchdog groups such as CREW and Public Citizen, among others.

The letter was spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union, which describes its work and mission nonpartisan.

They said they chose to voice concerns about the panel out of fears that it could set the precedent for a later investigation on "any group that happens to draw the ire of the majority."

Democrats on the committee, led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), have repeatedly asked Ryan to disband the Planned Parenthood investigation. They claim they have been ignored in the subpoena process by Chairwoman Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Trump puts GOP in tough spot with remarks on foreign 'dirt' Senate GOP blocks bill to require campaigns report foreign election assistance MORE (R-Tenn.), a vocal critic of abortion.

The Democrats say many of the subpoenas issued by Blackburn have released private information about doctors and patients, putting them at risk from anti-abortion extremists.  

Many of the same complaints were underscored in the coalition's letter.  

The groups slammed the committee as "standardless" and an "abuse of power."  

They also warned the committee's investigation had halted "potentially groundbreaking" research as a result of the harsh scrutiny on fetal tissue over the last year. Without that research, the groups say, "millions" of people will suffer.