The President of Planned Parenthood testified before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the organization’s fetal tissue donation program. Congressman Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) is on that committee.
The congressional hearing lasted more than four hours and grew contentious, with many Republicans claiming Planned Parenthood is more of a political advocacy organization that wastes federal money than a health care group that deserves to receive taxpayer dollars.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and some Democrats defended Planned Parenthood by accusing Republicans of using “highly edited videos” and misleading information about the organization to advance a political agenda.
Lawmakers are debating whether to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood after the release of several undercover videos alleging it illegally profits from the sale of fetal tissue. The organization receives roughly $450 million a year in federal funding, with almost $400 million of that being reimbursement for services covered by Medicaid. Federal funds are prohibited by law from being used for abortion and Planned Parenthood’s federal funding covers services such as cancer screenings and birth control.
Rep. Clay asked Richards during the hearing if Planned Parenthood receives any federal funding for its fetal tissue donation program.
“No, not that I’m aware of,” said Richards.
That same question was also asked several times of Richards by a South Carolina lawmaker and Richards said she wasn’t sure.
Clay questioned if Planned Parenthood physicians alter the timing, method or procedure of an abortion for the purpose of obtaining fetal tissue for research.
“I have spoken with our Chief Medical Officer. She assures me that she knows of no instance where the timing, procedure or method of an abortion was altered in any way in order to facilitate what is the patient’s desire to donate fetal tissue for fetal tissue research,” said Richards.
Clay also asked Richards about the patient consent process.
“Women are fully consenting and consent at Planned Parenthood certainly prior to an abortion,” said Richards.
She said more women are asking to donate fetal tissue and believes that is in part due to media attention the organization has received.
The House on Tuesday passed legislation that gives states the power to ban abortion providers from their Medicaid programs.
Some Republicans have threatened to block a temporary spending deal if it includes financing for Planned Parenthood. The U.S. House and Senate are expected to decide today on a budget bill to avoid a government shutdown Thursday.
On Monday Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, said his office’s investigation of Planned Parenthood in Missouri found no evidence to suggest that the organization’s St. Louis facility is breaking any state laws. The office opened an investigation shortly after the release of the undercover videos.