“Millions continue to be threatened by the Zika outbreak, but Republican leadership is instead wasting taxpayer dollars and time on an extreme and unpopular political witch hunt attacking women.”

Washington, DC – Instead of attending a Congressional committee hearing on a government response to the increasing public health threat posed by Zika virus, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) will instead hold a hearing of the Select Panel attacking women’s health in a secluded room in the Capitol Visitor Center, the latest installment in Republican leadership’s unpopular witch hunt against Planned Parenthood and women’s right to have a safe and legal abortion.  

Blackburn is a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight, which is holding a hearing on Zika today at the same time the Select Panel convenes.

The Select Panel is chaired by Blackburn with the support and funding provided of Speaker Paul Ryan, in response to a series of lies and made-up allegations against Planned Parenthood by indicted criminals and extreme anti-abortion activists. Democrats have continued to decry the panel, calling for its disbandment and proposing an alternative agenda that would instead focus on ways to advance women’s and infant health. Today marks the first hearing to be held, which includes a lineup of anti-abortion witnesses.
 

Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
 

“It’s time to stop this political witch hunt. Marsha Blackburn’s Select Panel attacking women’s health is a waste of taxpayer resources, and it is irresponsible for Speaker Ryan to allow it to continue. If Republican leadership was serious about protecting maternal and infant health, they would not be preempting Congressional attempts to address a true public health crisis: the Zika Virus. Millions continue to be threatened by the Zika outbreak, but Republican leadership is instead wasting taxpayer dollars and time on an extreme and unpopular political witch hunt attacking women. At the end of the day, this panel is a convoluted effort from deeply out-of-touch politicians to make abortion illegal in all cases.”
 

Last month,Democratic members of the Select Committee proposed rules that would help protect the privacy and safety of both patients and providers, and recommend an investigative plan. 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 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 Texascleared Planned Parenthood  Last October, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richardssent 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 raised serious 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.

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