POLITICS

Congress' Planned Parenthood Investigation Has Turned Up 'No Evidence,' House Dems Say

Two different House committees are going after the family planning provider.

WASHINGTON -- The same day the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to "expose" Planned Parenthood's "horrific abortion practices," members of another House committee announced that their federal investigation into the family planning provider has so far turned up no evidence of wrongdoing. 

The Judiciary Committee brought three longtime anti-abortion activists to testify at the hearing on Wednesday, including two women who claim they "survived" botched abortions that their mothers had attempted. The Democrats were allowed one witness, a Yale University professor who supports abortion rights. Planned Parenthood was not invited to testify at the hearing.

Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the hearing was justified because Planned Parenthood "is granted huge amounts of federal funds, making it our business as members of Congress" to investigate its practices.

Anti-abortion activists released a series of heavily edited undercover videos last month that accuse Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue after abortions. But multiple state investigations and the federal investigation being conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee have so far been unable to find any facts to support that claim.

Just before the Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, the ranking Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee announced that their investigation has found "no evidence" to support the claims that Planned Parenthood is engaged in any illegal activities.

 "Over the last month, we have carefully reviewed the facts at hand and the materials provided to us as a result of the majority's inquiry," said Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Co.) in a statement.

"Despite the incendiary rhetoric, we have looked strictly at the facts. We are continuing to do our due diligence, but we have found these claims to be unsubstantiated," the statement read. 

Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have not yet released their findings from the investigation. 

The Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, did not appear to be concerned with the facts of the Planned Parenthood investigation. Lawmakers instead used the hearing as an opportunity to decry abortion in general. An emotional Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) called abortion "the worst human rights atrocity in the history of the United States of America."

"What is so liberating about brutally and painfully dismembering living, helpless human babies?" Franks said. 
 
Franks is one of 28 House Republicans, all men, who are threatening to shut down the federal government in November if the budget bill includes any funding for Planned Parenthood. The family planning provider receives about $500 million in government funding each year, which it uses to subsidize services like birth control, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted disease treatments for low-income patients.
 
Federal law already prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions. 
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee defended the family planning provider at the hearing, noting that millions of people rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care and family planning services. 
 
"Planned Parenthood serves 2.7 million Americans a year, and 1 in 3 women will have used Planned Parenthood services by the age of 45," Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) told colleagues. “Some abortion opponents are attempting to use these videos as a pretext to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. If successful, this effort would hurt those who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services, and doing so would not prevent abortions."
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