On July 14, 2015 the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) uploaded an undercover video depicting Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services,
discussing the sale of tissue from abortions with undercover “buyers.”
On the same day, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, released a statement discrediting the video as being “heavily edited” and apologized for the lack of compassion demonstrated by the staff member in the video. President Richards finishes her statement by reminding viewers that all tissue donations within Planned Parenthood are consensual and legal. She thanks those whom have donated tissue and provides examples of what the research tissue helps fund such as cures for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
A few days later on July 21, 2015, the CMP posted another video, this time with President of the Planned Parenthood Medical Director, Dr. Mary Gatter, having a similar conversation with undercover “buyers” about the sale of human tissue. A hearing was held Sep. 29, 2015 by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in response to these allegations against Planned Parenthood. The purpose was to review the work of Planned Parenthood and to discover the truth behind the videos.
At the hearing only President Cecile Richards represented the organization against the committee. Richards provided full cooperation with all documentation and responded calmly and professionally despite the opinions of committee members. Throughout the hearing it became clear that a large bias towards Planned Parenthood was held by a majority of the members of the committee. Instead of discussing the allegation of illegal tissue donation and the funding for many of the services provided, the committee focused on the overall issue and political stances of abortion.
Members were given five minutes to question and comment on the issue with Richards. Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio interrupted Richards’ responses when questioned about the need for an apology in her response video. By the end of his allotted time Richards had been unable to form a full sentence. Rep. John Duncan from Tennessee asserted, “Surely you don’t expect us to be easier on you because you’re a woman?” to which Richards responded, “Absolutely not. That’s not how my mama raised me.” Rep. Paul Gosar from Arizona asked Richards a question about the cost of birth control and how it directly related to the number of abortions, inadvertently making claims that Planned Parenthood benefits solely off of the money made from abortions and refusing to allow Richards to respond to Gosar’s allegations.
In defense of Planned Parenthood, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington D.C., Rep. Gerald Connolly from Virginia, Rep. Brenda Lawrence from Michigan, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman from New Jersey spoke up publicly chastising other members for their treatment of Richards and their behavior. “My colleagues like to say there’s no war on women. Look at how you’ve been treated as a witness. Intimidation, talking over, interrupting, cutting off sentences, criticizing you because of your salary. How dare you? Who do you think you are?… The disrespect, the misogyny rampant here today tells us what is really going on here. This isn’t about some bogus video…this is about a conservative philosophy that says we are constitutionalists…except when it comes to women controlling their own bodies and making their own health decisions,” declared Rep. Connolly. By the end of the hearing there was no cut-and-dry conclusion as to the videos and actions of Planned Parenthood. The only decisive outcome was a political debate over Planned Parenthood and the morality of abortion.
According to the 2013-2014 Annual Report by Planned Parenthood, over 90 percent of the medical services provided by Planned Parenthood include a variety of programs such as STI/STD testing and treatment, contraception options, and other women’s health services compared to the three percent focused on abortions.
Despite the trial, Planned Parenthood is still in operation. For more information about Planned Parenthood, visit www.plannedparenthood.org.
To watch the Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing of Planned Parenthood, visit https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/18201/ .