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Cecile Richards Defends Planned Parenthood To House Oversight Committee

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Cecile Richards Defends Planned Parenthood To House Oversight Committee


During a grueling five-hour hearing Tuesday in front of the House Oversight Committee, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards took hostile questions from congressional Republicans angling to strip federal funding from the women’s health organization.

The hearing was the result of a months-long investigation into Planned Parenthood, kicked off by the release of a series of duplicitously edited (and possibly illegally produced) videos that claim to expose the group’s practice of harvesting fetal tissue and selling it at a profit. In fact, 1 percent of the organization’s health centers participate in fetal tissue donation, and receive remuneration to cover the costs of doing so; it is not the mercenary enterprise conservative politicians have described.

Although the subject of the hearing was nominally the allocation of federal funds, the ethics and legality of abortion itself were very much on the line. Planned Parenthood, which sees 2.7 million patients a year, receives roughly 500 million federal tax dollars annually in reimbursements for services it provides; by law, none of those funds can go to abortion services except in rare cases, such as incest or rape.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and his GOP colleagues often invoked their own personal beliefs as they pertain to abortion — even though abortion, as Richards and some supportive Democrats in the room had to repeatedly remind the committee, is a legal right.

“Does this organization, Planned Parenthood, really need federal subsidies?” he asked in his opening remarks. He charged that the organization misallocated funds toward political lobbying, “blowout” and “lavish” parties, and high-class real estate and travel expenses.

Richards was asked to justify her salary, account for individual line items on the tax returns of disparate affiliate clinics, explain Planned Parenthood’s lack of onsite radiological services at its facilities (their clinics provide primary care and make referrals for mammograms), and engage in protracted sparring sessions on the semantics of “revenue,” “profit,” and “reimbursement.”

Chaffetz also questioned Richards’ claim that defunding the organization would negatively impact its ability to provide primary health care services for its patients, particularly lower-income women. He asked that Richards explain a graph that he displayed, furnished by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, which purported to illustrate how abortion services had overtaken preventive health services like cancer screenings, although the graph grossly misrepresented the data.

Stacey Plaskett, delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, reminded the committee that while Planned Parenthood operated within the law, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) — the anti-abortion outfit responsible for the videos — had illegally filed paperwork in California to obtain tax-exempt status for a sham biomedical organization. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood had furnished the committee with over 20,000 pages of documents, while the investigation had not reviewed anything from the CMP.

Noting that CMP and its founder David Daleidian were not present to be questioned, Plaskett called the hearing “unfair.” Chaffetz said that Daleidian had been subpoenaed, and the documents he produced were lying in a safe, unreviewed, because he had been “unable to provide all of the documents” thanks to a “temporary restraining order.”

The hearing, Chaffetz insisted, was about the ongoing funding of Planned Parenthood — not the videos — which was why Daleidian was not invited to the hearing.

The “funding question is related to those videos, which are the genesis of the question of whether to defund,” Plaskett said. “I think its a little naive of us to think that that discussion can be done in a vacuum without the videos and the other documents from the other side.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) said he would ask “funding questions that have nothing to do with the videos.” A poker-faced Richards repeatedly had to explain to Mulvaney that Planned Parenthood reinvests its revenues in health care services and education — and does not, strictly speaking, make a profit — since it is, after all, a non-profit organization.

And yet committee Republicans repeatedly invoked the imagery and claims of the video in their attacks on Richards. Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) asked Richards if she defended “the sale of baby body parts,” and said that Richards’ response to the videos was like that of a criminal getting caught.

In her questioning, Diane Black, Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, seemed to articulate the central conflict at issue — which was not about taxpayer funding at all: Black said that abortion was not health care; Richards responded adamantly that it was.

Photo: Planned Parenthood Federation president Cecile Richards testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 29, 2015.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron 

Sam Reisman

Sam Reisman is the former managing editor at The National Memo, where he still writes the weekly "This Week In Crazy" column. His writing has appeared in Flavorpill, The Huffington Post, Columbia Daily Spectator, and Bwog. He was the publisher of the 2010 edition of Inside New York, an annual guidebook to the city for students and young professionals.

Since 2011, he has co-curated and hosted Peculiar Streams, a showcase for NYC-based writers, musicians, comedians, and filmmakers. He is a staff writer at Mediaite, and blogs at SamReisman.com.

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  1. Janey Friese September 30, 2015

    Allow me to show you a different way you+ can make a lot of money by completing basic tasks online from your couch for few short h /day / Check it out on following site … http://digitalmarketingjobsmakingcareers987598759827359875987*@(*%(*(&@%&&^&*^%*&%&*%&^%&^%///////.,.,5635678356358.,,,.,.,$#$#$@$@$#@56969#@$#@$#@$#$#@#

  2. C K Johnson September 30, 2015

    Planed Parenthood is a private corporation. Why should tax payers fund the Harvesting of Baby parts.

    1. stcroixcarp September 30, 2015

      Harvesting “Baby parts ” is like organ donations. Tax payers don’t pay for harvesting these tissues. The research facility pays for expenses.

    2. greenlantern1 September 30, 2015

      Taxpayer money is used for private corporations?
      The REPUBLICAN way?

    3. Eleanore Whitaker September 30, 2015

      First of all, keep lying you moron. Is that what your Big Daddy taught AFTER he taught you the art of impregnation?

      1. C K Johnson October 2, 2015

        Call it what ever you want? The facts are Millions of babies have been Murdered. And their body parts sold.All in the name of Planned Parenthood.Your statement shows who the MORON is !!!!!!!

        1. Eleanore Whitaker October 2, 2015

          Here’s a sugggestion men will hate: SNIP SNIP SNIP SNIP….get a vasectomy and then there won’t be ANY need for abortions.

          Women are fed up being dumped on by men who can’t keep it in their pants, refuse to do their part in biological reproduction and then run like the wind the minute their sperm becomes a fetus?

          No woman is going to carry the product of rape full term and spend the rest of her life being reminded some male who can’t control himself mentally or physically has forced her to raise his kid. All while he jollies himself raping more women for his entire lifetime. Men are part of procreation. It’s damn time for men to police their own.

          There are women who must have abortions or suffer excruciating pain of tubal pregnancy. Are you suggesting they allow their fallopian tubes to burst so you can get your jollies watching their pain? What kind of saddist are you anyway?

          Your post is getting to be so typical of men and women who think they can FORCE their befrigged will on others. I don’t need your brand of boys will be boys morality. Boy impregnates girl, boy takes off as if he had NOTHING to do with the pregnancy and then open his cow’s butt mouth blaming her for getting pregnant. Enough of that BS.

    4. ResqDogz September 30, 2015

      And – using your same “logic” – why should taxpayers fund professional football and global fossil fuel gargantuans, who reap billions in profits annually, yet STILL receive “tax free” status or are the recipients of billions in tax breaks and subsidies ($4.8 billion to the oil industry in 2014 alone – an average of $3.34 for every barrel of oil they produce)???

      Your “harvesting of baby parts” is a completely baseless, inflammatory and incendiary characterization intended solely to evoke outrage without foundation or substantiation: Go peddle your tripe in some back alley, where it originated and belongs….

    5. tomtype September 30, 2015

      The government doesn’t fund any such thing. The government does pay them for performing medical procedures other than abortion, just as they pay any doctor, clinic or hospital. It is called medical services reinbursement.
      Have you been sleeping through this whole discussion?

    6. jmprint September 30, 2015

      Same reason we pay for your little blue pill with MY tax money.

  3. greenlantern1 September 30, 2015

    Both lesbians and homosexuals are quite barren.
    Why would they even want abortions to begin with?
    Any more games?
    Ever read about the MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE?
    The murder, of children, by Mormons?
    Condone that?

    1. Eleanore Whitaker September 30, 2015

      Shouldn’t you be preaching your moral gospels out on a ledge somewhere? I’m sure you don’t mind that the US donates billions to countries where abortions are legal, right? So long as it gets you men what you want. Grow the hell up. Women are not yours to control. Stop telling women what ONLY women know.

      Men like you are a joke. You love, love, love making babies. Just not sticking around to raise them for the next 20 years. And, who the hell died and said that your gender gets to dominate Planet Earth?

      Women don’t need men today. We can earn our own livings (even if you men rip us off paying us 79 cents for every dollar YOU YOU YOU earn.

      For every woman who has EVER been raped by a man, where the hell is your big mouth then?

    2. pisces63 September 30, 2015

      Because you’re gay(male or female) it does not leave them barren. Are you really that much of a village idiot. They are gay, not eunuchs. Their reproductive organs function quite well which is why so many women give birth. Men donate to a surrogate and voila, a child is born. Mountain Meadows, really? Those were living children or if so, pregnant women. Your write this and I bet you voted for Mitt Romney without a thought to Mountain Meadows. What in the world does singling out gays for this conversation have to do with anything.
      This is mind boggling on a hump day Wednesday morning. I had my coffee, too.

      1. greenlantern1 October 1, 2015

        Ever hear of Margaret Hoover?
        She supports gay marriage.
        Herbert Hoover oversaw the Food For Belgium program.
        She sat on a Belgian education panel.
        Did any Republican,ever, denounce the Hoover Foundation?
        Vote for Romney?
        At one time; I was a Republican.
        NEVER AGAIN!!

    3. John Murchison September 30, 2015

      baren? nonsense.

  4. i2grok September 30, 2015

    Hostile is a mild term for the treatment MS Richards received. The GOP says they have no war on women, perhaps they should review themselves in this hearing.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker September 30, 2015

    The Republicans know that this is NOT about Planned Parenthood. It’s a typical GOP attempt to ignore Roe vs. Wade, a federal law.

    Women who live in these DogPatch corn pone and cotton ball states are so totally dependent on men to validate their existence, open legs is all they know.

    1. jmprint September 30, 2015

      Not all women Eleanore, their are a lot of very independent women, but yes those that put man on a higher pedestal have no say so.

  6. FT66 September 30, 2015

    There was something wrong with the Congress Oversight Committee which called the leader of Planned Parenthood to testify. They could had called first those who produced the video, let them clarify of what, where, and how they got the video, then after getting the full information, call the leader of the organisation in order to answer questions which the Committee had doubts on. To me, what the Committee has done, has no difference from what a Kangaroo Court do.

    1. latebloomingrandma September 30, 2015

      One of the first things I learned as a manager in my former life was to get BOTH sides of the story.

      1. jmprint September 30, 2015

        Yes, but when you don’t care what the other side has to say, you act and treat people like they do.

    2. oldtack September 30, 2015

      This is not a legal inquiry. It is another “Witch Hunt”

    3. barneybolt12 September 30, 2015

      Do you really think that the GOP/TP would actualy do a though investigation to find out the truth? Rep. Chaffetz used a bogus graph and got caught in a lie. He said the graph came from PP own information until it was pointed out that the information came from the a RW organization. (mic-drop)

      1. plc97477 October 1, 2015

        He didn’t even have the modicum of intelligence to edit out the source at the bottom of the page.

  7. Girl Downunder September 30, 2015

    Congress Oversight Committee: Lying old men who fear women & have an over-powering desire to control women.

    1. oldtack September 30, 2015

      Evangelical “Christians love to quote Saul of Tarsus (later know as the Apostle Paul”. “Women be under subjection to your Husband in all things”..
      Sounds vaguely similar to sharia Law doesn’t it?.

    2. plc97477 October 1, 2015

      You nailed it. That description is perfect.

  8. ResqDogz September 30, 2015

    This entire outrageous event was highly reminiscent of the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) witch hunt conducted by the infamous Joe McCarthy in the ’50’s: Rude, abrasive, pontificating partisan blowhards seeking center-stage merely to profess their personal objections to the law of the land (for over 40 years!): Assuming their trademark demeanor, these Repugnicans bullied, sullied, and with deliberated prejudice attacked this vital organization with arguments predicatead on non-factual, highly suspect and unverified information (much like Fiorini’s highly falsified, now-debunked presidential candidate campaign attack), while refusing to allow her to respond and refute their abhorrent falsifications!

    This is what we have come to expect from this travesty that masquerades as a political party, and is only further evidence of their collective decline and imminent collapse: I predict that in the next Presidential election cycle, even level-headed conservatives (if such an animal truly exists?) will vote for the Democratic candidate (whomever that may be) as the only sane alternative, to maintain order and avert chaos throughout out political system and across our country and sustain our global reputation as the world’s reigning STABLE superpower and economy… realizing the utter ruin that ANY extreme right candidate would invariably introduce!

    KUDOS to Ms. Richards for her candor and courageous, unwavering, professional demeanor in the face of these rude, corrosive, fat-cat politicos – determined to show themselves to be the proverbial “pot calling the kettle black”!

    1. latebloomingrandma September 30, 2015

      She learned well from her mama.

      1. jam September 30, 2015

        I wasn’t aware until yesterday that she was Ann Richards’ daughter.
        Thank heavens that righteous, wonderful woman lives on in her incredibly intelligent offspring. Thank you, Ms. Richards, for being there for us!

      2. Irishgrammy September 30, 2015

        So true Latebloominggrandma! I really, really miss Ann Richards candor, humor and intellect, just miss her being in this world so she could comment on the ridiculousness going on now, she was indeed a great “broad” and I mean that in the very best way! She deserved so much better than the disgusting “big money Texans” attacks that crucified her after she did such a good job for the real people in Texas. She was one of the hardest working governors Texas ever had!

  9. pisces63 September 30, 2015

    Listen to Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland and his dissection of the republican agenda at
    the hearings. He even read the parts they cut out. It seems, they were asked many times if they harvest for a profit and was answered NO, every time for three years. Those answers were cut. There was also an attempted buying of said parts for an huge amount of money and the answer was NO. Cut from the video. Then he went on to list every major company that receives federal funds, such as Lockheed and how many crimes they
    committed and laws broken but they never tried to defund any of them. Listed the amount of money paid each, from banks to manufacturing.

    1. latebloomingrandma September 30, 2015

      Rep Cummings was awesome. Did Faux News show his testimony?

  10. itsfun September 30, 2015

    I don’t see this as a issue of woman health. No one is saying make abortion illegal. People simply don’t want baby parts harvested like an ear of corn. Nor do many taxpayers like their tax money going to organizations that harvest baby parts. I saw this morning on TV that there are over 13000 health centers that perform legal abortions. No one is trying to shut them down. Abortion is legal and probably should remain legal. Both sides of this issue are so passionate that they can’t see the other sides view.

    1. johninPCFL September 30, 2015

      What’s their distribution? Planned Parenthood is mostly distributed in the poor areas of the country. How does a poor working woman give up a days work to travel 500 miles to see a clinic doctor?

      1. itsfun September 30, 2015

        I don’t know the distribution of the clinics. My guess is they would be located where they make the most money. I don’t think a poor woman can give up a days work to travel long distances. Because I don’t like the planned parenthood organization and their doings, doesn’t mean I am against legal abortion. We can’t go back to back alley doctors and coat hangers.

        1. johninPCFL September 30, 2015

          Planned Parenthood was started by a radical racist (like the Southern Baptist Convention) and began by trying to issue abortions to every black woman. Most black women were in the rural south and rustbelt north, so that’s where the clinics’ densest population is. Most “for profit” clinics are in suburban areas, most Planned Parenthood clinics are in rural and urban areas.

          Eliminating Planned Parenthood returns us to the era of rural women getting zero healthcare until the ambulance brings them to the hospital to die.

    2. tomtype September 30, 2015

      Planned Parenthood has two clinics that pass on fetal tissue to research labs. One charges for shipping and handling, the other does not.
      Two clinics out of 850. One charges nominal fees for the facilitating of delivery to medical research labs, and only with the express written consent of the mother. How is any of that match even your description. How is any of that worthy of this hoopla? And how is that “harvesting organs like corn”?

    3. jmprint September 30, 2015

      itsfun, Abortion is already legal. Nobody is getting pregnant to harvest body parts, they are donated by women, that is their right, just like you have the right to donate your body parts for research. Taxpayers are paying for the little blue pill, but they are not paying for abortions, unless medicaid covers it under a necessity for the women’s life. You have it wrong, the passionate side of the republicans started with: 1) I don’t want my tax money being used on abortions, because women don’t want to hold a coin with their knees to keep from from getting pregnant, 2) It’s my religious belief, and I don’t want any abortion going on, regardless if it’s a women’s right, and now the body parts OMG they are running out of excuses in order to trample women’s rights.

      1. itsfun September 30, 2015

        Where did I say abortion is not legal or where did I say women are getting pregnant to harvest body parts? You don’t think people can be passionate about their religious rights? Don’t you think people should have the right to question where their tax money is going?
        Abortion legal or not is not going away. I would rather see it legal, then having a quack or a desperate lady with a coat hanger performing abortions. I am saying this is a issue that won’t go away. There are just some issues that will never go away. Long after you and I are gone, people will still be arguing about this.

  11. Carolyn1520 September 30, 2015

    I’m of the mind, the entire scandal was orchestrated and long in the works so the right would have an excuse to close down the government “again” and defund Planned Parenthood at the same time. They can’t use Obamacare “again” and the effort that went into this all out attack feels too much like big money was backing it.

  12. bcarreiro September 30, 2015

    Line item veto…she should step down. Sorry excuse for a human.

  13. Insinnergy September 30, 2015

    Cummings reposte was particularly impressive.
    Here it is if you missed it: https://youtu.be/EuvUSRnTSGo

    You don’t see Jason Chaffetz asking HSBC to answer questions about how much the CEO is paid, or line items on their tax return, or effectively turning a blind eye to illegal stings, false representation and deliberately forged ‘evidence’…
    and they were actually doing illegal things, namely laundering money for Mexican Drug Cartels.

    There’s something solidly distasteful about the conservative movement’s desperate desire to control everything to do with women as if they are not capable of making their own decisions.

  14. Irishgrammy September 30, 2015

    I watched about 2 1/2 hours of this catastrophe, which, I might add was stomach churning, especially after Chaffetz (R-UT) opening remarks which were about as disrespectful and ignorant as I have seen….I mean really don’t these men ever talk to their wives on how mammograms are done and how their visits to their doctors proceed or do they just make it up as they go making up their own “facts” along the way……….just contemptible and it didn’t get better from there, with the exception of Cummings counter remarks which were perfect. But towards the finality of Chaffetz comments and his grandstanding “chart” he said he made from the “figures” provided by PP, lie #1, attacked Cecile Richards with another lie, then got slammed by PP attorney with the FACT that this “chart” was literally copied exactly from a Newsletter for Americans United for Life, an extreme right wing anti-abortion group, that also lies with impunity. The look and bumbling reaction, shaky hands and “dry mouth” woops of being found out, was priceless on Chaffetz’s face. Trey Gowdy the poster boy of arrogance on steroids, Jordan dumb as a rock, and angry rock at that, and too many others were just vicious, they attacked, leaving no room for and didn’t want to listen to answers, they just attacked, attacked all based on videos that have been proven heavily edited added to from a group and man, Daleidian, dedicated to doing or saying anything to “win” his war on PP and make a woman’s choice illegal. It was one of the most outrageous concoction of ineptitude and pure partisan grandstanding on the taxpayer’s dime I have seen, millions being spent…..well since the last time the Republicans did this garbage…….wait until Oct. 8th when “Bengahzi” will be the word for the day and “destroy Hillary” the battle cry for these utterly worthless, incompetent, mindless politicians.

  15. Whatmeworry September 30, 2015

    Duplicitous editing of tapes has been debunked time and again. What’s criminal is her $600,000 a year salary and that taxpayers $$$ are being used to lobby congress

  16. plc97477 October 1, 2015

    Complaining about much money Ms. Roberts makes is something coming from people that makes oodles for doing absolutely nothing. Maybe even less than nothing.


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