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Planned Parenthood President Testifies Before Congress

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, testified in front of a congressional committee for four hours today in an effort to defend federal funding of the national organization that offers women's health services.

Planned Parenthood has frequently been the target of U.S. conservative lawmakers, who say they oppose federal funding for women's health services, which may include terminating pregnancies. Men on the House Oversight Committee painted a picture of spending on lavish parties, rather than women's health services.

They also questioned whether federal subsidies make sense.

"The question before us is: Does this organization—does Planned Parenthood really need a federal subsidy?" House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said. "Does it need federal dollars? Every time we spend a federal dollar, what we're doing is pulling money out of somebody's pocket and we're giving it to somebody else. What I don't like, what I don't want to tolerate, what I don't want to become numb to is wasting those taxpayer dollars."

Richards pushed back, asking where lawmaker effort had been for investigations into David Daleiden and the other anti-abortion activists who made video recordings, which anti-abortion activists claimed to show evidence that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue to research companies, CNN reported. Daleiden got the footage after posing as an executive for a made-up firm that buys fetal tissue for scientists.

"It is clear that they acted fraudulently and unethically—and perhaps illegally," Richards said in remarks prepared for her appearance Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "Yet it is Planned Parenthood, not Mr. Daleiden, that is currently subject to four separate congressional investigations."

In her prepared remarks, Richards told the panel that just 1 percent of Planned Parenthood's almost 700 clinics obtain fetal tissue for researchers seeking disease cures and that it was just a "minuscule" part of her organization's services, which include sexual disease testing and the provision of contraception and abortions.

Yesterday, Missouri's attorney general, Chris Koster, released the results of an investigation into Planned Parenthood's tissue-handling practices. Koster's report concluded they could find no evidence that the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri performing surgical abortions participated in the selling of fetal tissue whatsoever.

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