House Republican leaders announced a probe into Planned Parenthood after the release of a video revealing the organization sells the body parts of aborted babies. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement saying that “nothing is more precious than life,” and that if Planned Parenthood is really working to “monetize an unborn child,” then “we must all act.”
“As a start, I have asked our relevant committees to look into this matter,” Boehner said in a statement. “I am also calling on President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices.”
Undercover footage released by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted babies, and admitting she and others at the organization use partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts. The footage, which also starred Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards, herself, who praised Nucatola’s work to facilitate connections for fetal tissue collection, resulted in outrage from Republicans and their 2016 presidential candidates.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., also announced Wednesday that his committee has opened an investigation into the allegations that Planned Parenthood “altered abortion procedures in order to harvest the organs and body parts of aborted children for money.”
“Every human life is sacred and should be protected from the atrocities allegedly undertaken by Planned Parenthood. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating these horrific acts including ascertaining how Congress might act,” Chairman Goodlatte said. “The prospects of altering an abortion procedure in order to preserve intact the organs of aborted children, including their brains, reminds us yet again of the horrors of late-term abortions, and the need for the Senate to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
In January, when GOP leadership tabled the aforementioned ban on late-term abortion after 20 weeks, in what was one of their first acts after taking the majority in both houses of Congress following the 2014 midterm elections. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker Boehner were bleeding support from moderate lawmakers in swing districts, but Rep. Goodlatte and other supporters of the bill vowed to bring it back to the floor.
“Members of the House Judiciary Committee have been committed to the preservation of human life, including the lives of unborn children,” Chairman Goodlatte said. “We will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn.”
Majority Leader McCarthy released a separate statement saying that “life is truly a miracle,” and “the House will continue to fight to protect the sanctity of life.”
“I speak for all of my colleagues when I say I was deeply disturbed by reports and video of an organization engaging in such grotesque and inhumane practices,” House Majority Leader McCarthy said. “I will be working with House Committees to investigate the claims made by the employee. We should all agree that no life is expendable, and our society has no place for such callous indifference to life.”
Following McCarthy’s statement, the Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee announced that they have also opened an investigation into the organization, and the video.
“This video is abhorrent and rips at the heart,” said Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and other top Republicans on the panel. “The committee will get to the bottom of this appalling situation.”
The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). According to its 2013-2014 annual report, Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million dollars in taxpayer federal funding for the year ending June 30, 2014. During the same year, the organization performed 327,653 abortions, which they have repeatedly claimed does not result in the harvest of body parts for sale or other illegal use. In fact, when they were first caught harvesting baby body parts 15 years ago, Planned Parenthood claimed it was the action of a rogue affiliate, or franchise-like location.
“This video is deeply disturbing and made me sick to my stomach. That anyone from Planned Parenthood could so casually talk of selling off organs from aborted babies is repulsive,” said Rep Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., who is running to replace Sen. Marco Rubio. “I join my colleagues in denouncing this loathsome practice and Planned Parenthood’s callous attitude regarding the disposal of fetal remains. The organization ought to be ashamed and I will continue to support efforts in Congress to prevent them from receiving taxpayer dollars.”
Considering Americans’ near-180-degree swing on abortion since the 1990s, particularly regarding late-term and partial-birth abortion, it’s no wonder why the Democratic candidates are in hiding. As of Wednesday morning, not a single declared Democratic presidential candidate — including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, or former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee — have responded to multiple requests from PPD to comment.