“It’s time to dispel with this fiction that Representative Marsha Blackburn has any interest in the facts, or in conducting a fair and unbiased hearing.”


Washington, DC --- Condemning Rep. Marsha Blackburn for her unfair and biased investigation into Planned Parenthood, today, Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky and the Democratic Members of the Select Panel sent a letter to Select Panel Chair Blackburn, proposing instead an investigative plan and rules that would re-focus the committee on how to improve the health and lives of women and infants.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“We applaud Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky and the Select Panel Democratic Members for sending this letter. It’s time to dispel with this fiction that Representative Marsha Blackburn has any interest in the facts, or in conducting a fair and unbiased hearing. Since the chairwoman doesn’t have a plan for this committee, Democrats have suggested one for her — recommending real solutions that would improve the lives of women and infants across America. The longer the chairwoman stalls, the more clear it becomes that this Select Committee is nothing more than a witch hunt intended to villainize Planned Parenthood health centers and the millions of women, men, and young people who rely on them. The American people have no appetite for continued attacks on women’s health, and it’s a misstep for Speaker Ryan to let this committee continue.”

The Democratic members proposed rules that would help protect the privacy and safety of both patients and providers, and recommend an investigative plan that would look into:

  • The benefits of fetal tissue research.

  • The range of critical, lifesaving services that reproductive health care professionals provide.   

  • What is really needed to protect infant lives, including the full range of issues that impact the health of women and their families before, during, and after a pregnancy.

  • The conspiracy to attack women’s healthcare, including how false “evidence” like the deceptively edited videos manufactured by the Center for Medical Progress affects public policy and harms women’s access to health care.

  • Protecting patients and healthcare providers from violence, harassment, and intimidation.  

The letter was signed by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

Previously, Planned Parenthood has called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to officiallydisband the select committee investigating Planned Parenthood. The organization launched an online petition after a grand jury in Texas cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted on federal charges two individuals behind the heavily manipulated videos based on lies about Planned Parenthood health centers. Last October, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan requesting Congress provide justification for its continued probes into the nonprofit women’s health provider.

Last summer, it became clear that certain members of the Republican caucus knew ahead of time about the videos and tried to cover it up. While it remains unclear whether these members also knew that the maker of the videos, David Daleiden, and his criminal conspirators broke the law in order to spread lies and false information about the nonprofit health care provider, some members continue to be in contact with Daleiden, as evidenced by a recent meeting between felony indicted Daleiden and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA-1).

Despite Republican leadership’s recent denials that the select committee has anything to do with Planned Parenthood, Speaker Ryan’s office has couched the committee under “House Investigation into Planned Parenthood” on the GOP main page and its committee members have labeled it as such.  

Members of the House of Representatives, lead by Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) have also formally called on the Speaker to end the committee and have even raisedserious privacy concerns about the committee’s actions.

Officials in twelve states (Nevada, Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and South Dakota) have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Officials in eight states (California, Iowa, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Colorado) have declined to even investigate citing a lack of any evidence to suggest wrongdoing.

Last month,Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against Daleiden and a number of other anti-abortion extremists, alleging they had engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion.This is the tenth false smear campaign in 15 years aimed at damaging Planned Parenthood’s reputation as a premiere health care provider to millions of people making clear these groups will stop at nothing, including violence, to cut off access to reproductive health care.

This past July, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health, urging for a blue ribbon panel, led by medical experts, to conduct an assessment of fetal tissue research.

The campaign by the Center for Medical Progress is only the latest of a long line of attacks against the non-profit reproductive health care provider. In fact, a memo released last September outlines nine eerily similar attacks over the past 15 years, all of which fell apart upon closer inspection.

Materials:

For a full timeline of the attacks against reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood, go HERE.

BACKGROUND: Some of the Eerily Similar Attacks Anti-Abortion Activists Have Carried Out Over the Past 15 Years:

  • 2000: False Claims of Fetal Tissue Sales and a Discredited Witness: In a situation eerily similar to recent attacks, an undercover “whistleblower,” Dean Alberty, claimed that he had witnessed widespread violations of the federal prohibition on fetal tissue sales, that he helped create price lists, and that he witnessed viable fetuses outside the womb in a clinic. In 2000, a Republican-led congressional committee launched an investigation into allegations that Planned Parenthood health centers sold fetal tissue for profit, only to have the claims fall apart on closer inspection. Alberty admitted in a sworn affidavit that his accusations were not true, and according to Roll Call, his credibility was left “in tatters.”

  • 2011: Videos Falsely Claim Planned Parenthood Condones Sex Trafficking and Statutory Rape: In another situation that mimics today’s attacks, anti-abortion extremists released a series of heavily doctored videos attempting to show Planned Parenthood staff acting inappropriately. However, Planned Parenthood staff had reported the undercover activists to managers, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards proactively wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder alerting him to potential sex trafficking and requesting an investigation. Republican members of Congress ignored the clear evidence discrediting the videos and the active role Planned Parenthood took in reporting potentially illegal activity, and instead cited the videos as grounds for defunding Planned Parenthood and bringing the government to the brink of a shutdown — leading Senator Jon Kyl made the now infamous false claim that abortion services are “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does,” which he later clarified “was not intended to be a factual statement.”

  • 2009: Videos Falsely Claim Planned Parenthood Violates Informed Consent Laws: In 2009, an anti-abortion group released a series of videos with key phrases edited out, claiming that Planned Parenthood counseling practices violated informed consent requirements, induced women to obtain abortions under duress, and inappropriately worked to avoid parental consent requirements. The videos edited out all relevant statements such as “Are you sure this is the best thing for you?” and “No that’s the law. Period. Anywhere you go, if you are under the age of 18 you’re going to have to have a parent’s consent.”

  • 2002: Attempted Telephone “Sting” Operation: In 2002, an anti-abortion group placed over 800 phone calls to women’s health clinics across the country attempting to show the clinics did not comply with state statutory rape reporting requirements. The recordings prompted a criminal investigation in Connecticut and attacks around the country. However, the criminal investigation quickly collapsed due to lack of evidence that any actual victims were harmed, and further investigation of the tapes revealed that the recordings presented an extremely limited portion of the actions a Planned Parenthood clinic would take when presented with an actual patient and the full facts of the case. The HHS Office of Inspector General subsequently conducted a nationwide review of federally funded family planning centers, which found no violations.

To read the full memo on the attacks anti-abortion activists have carried out over the past 15 years, click HERE.