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Congress Continues the Campaign of Deception

Last week, a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee revealed once again the tired and contentious partisan clash over abortion rights in America. It was the first of multiple congressional hearings to address allegations from anti-choice lawmakers that Planned Parenthood profits off of funds from fetal tissue research. The false accusations were prompted by a video smear campaign from the Center for Medical Progress, a group created explicitly for this purpose.

In keeping with Center for Medical Progress’ anti-abortion bias, the hearing was titled “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” Lawmakers called on four individuals to testify; not one witness was a staff member or representative for Planned Parenthood, nor an activist from the Center for Medical Progress.

The creators of the videos purport that Planned Parenthood illegally profits off of the sale of fetal tissue from abortions. Selling fetal tissue for research purposes is a legal procedure in the United States, and grants providers the ability to accept payment for processing and shipping costs.

The supposed intent of the hearing was to assess whether or not material from the heavily edited videos of Planned Parenthood staff discussing tissue donation in a rather glib matter justified defunding the organization. In actuality, the debate centered largely around the morality of abortion and the point of viability of a fetus. As Amanda Marcotte concluded at Slate, “the hearing was mostly a competition among Republican men to decide who hates abortion the most.”

Several Republican members preemptively threatened to shut down the government because of their opposition to Planned Parenthood receiving federal funding. Frankly, it’s exhausting to engage their ludicrousy. According to a recent analysis of the videos from a private research company, Planned Parenthood hasn’t partaken in any illegal activity. Thus, GOP lawmakers were without a valid basis to appropriately discuss their concerns of the organization misusing funds.

Instead, the hearing was flooded with misinformation and an unfortunate dearth of unbiased facts on abortion or Planned Parenthood’s role in increasing access to healthcare for millions of Americans. Perhaps the most infuriatingly short-sighted question came from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI): “Could you please tell us why Planned Parenthood needs to get over half a billion dollars of federal funding every year when there are other pressing needs, such as feeding hungry children, that maybe we should put that money into?”

Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of health services to both women and men—more than five million Americans annually—including contraception, STI tests and treatment, Pap tests, abortion care, and more. These vital services contribute to the health and wellbeing of mothers, fathers, and their families, especially in low-income communities where Planned Parenthood is often the only provider available. This is the reality we should expect our elected public officials to engage, rather than subscribing to biased information that has long fueled our nation’s ideological wars.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Washington, D.C.

Lauren Kokum researches the intersection of religion and ethics with public policy at a think tank in Washington, D.C. She favors museums, slam poetry, and musings on race, gender, and human rights. | All opinions expressed here are her own.

Lauren Kokum favors museums, slam poetry, and musings on race, gender, religion, and human rights.

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