The request comes after months of Congress' unprecedented probing and disregard for both foundational facts and conclusions of no wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood
"It is increasingly difficult to understand the basis for the ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood"
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan today, congratulating him on his election as Speaker of the House, and requesting Congress provide justification for its continued probes into the non-profit women’s health provider.
Planned Parenthood has been cooperative to date, providing over 27,000 pages of documents to four congressional committees, and multiple staff members to answer questions for a total of more than 13 hours -- with Cecile Richards testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for over five hours alone.
Just last week, a congressional staff member released videos that were in the custody of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee majority staff, apparently leaking them to a blogger. These videos are the subject of an injunction issued by a federal district court in California, and had been provided to the Committee after the federal judge made an exception to the injunction. Though the original rationale for investigating Planned Parenthood—allegations related to fetal tissue donation practices—has resulted in no evidence of wrongdoing, the Majority in the House has now created a new “select committee” targeting Planned Parenthood, staffed by some of the most vocal opponents of abortion in Congress.
“To be completely clear: We have nothing to hide, and the facts are on our side,” Cecile Richards writes in the letter.
“But this leak calls into serious question the objectivity and professionalism of this investigation, and underscores concerns that this is a political exercise, rather than a fact-finding effort.”
The letter outlines a pattern of troubling activity stemming from the Congressional investigations thus far-- a blatantly misleading chart produced as “evidence” by Chairman Chaffetz and announced as prepared by his staff when, in fact, it was propaganda created by an organization opposed to abortion; a graphic video clip that was briefly stricken from the record when the witness who produced it as “evidence” admitted that it in fact had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood; and intrusive questions about legal donations made by the advocacy group Planned Parenthood Action Fund. It also calls for Speaker Ryan’s assistance in ensuring that these investigations are conducted with integrity, not to further an otherwise unpopular policy agenda to restrict women’s access to health care.
“We are one of the nation’s largest providers of reproductive health care for women, men and young people,” writes Richards. “[W]e appreciate your assistance in ensuring that investigations are fair and impartial, conducted in a manner that meets the high standards of the Congress, and respects the safety and privacy of our patients, our clinicians, and our staff.”