Planned Parenthood leader and House Republicans tangle over funding

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

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

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Republicans on Tuesday challenged Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for federal funds, while the health organization’s president said defunding it would restrict women’s access to care and disproportionately hurt low-income patients.

A series of videos that purport to show that Planned Parenthood improperly sells fetal tissue to researchers for profit has reignited anti-abortion voters’ fervor during a turbulent Republican presidential primary campaign.

At a five-hour House committee hearing, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards appeared alone to respond to hostile questioning from Republicans, some of whom have vowed to shut down the U.S. government if federal support for the organization is not cut off.

“As far as I can tell … this is an organization that doesn’t need federal subsidy,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said at the start.

Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, said Planned Parenthood’s $127 million in profit last year showed the organization could survive without federal funds. He accused the group of lavishly spending on travel, hosting “blowout parties” and paying “exorbitant salaries.”


READ: Ted Cruz enlists evangelicals with campaign against Planned Parenthood


Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal funds, largely in Medicaid reimbursements.

“We don’t make any profit off federal money,” Richards responded, adding that “outrageous allegations” against Planned Parenthood were “offensive and categorically untrue.”

She said Planned Parenthood did not use federal funds for abortions, which comprise 3 percent of its services, or for fetal tissue donations, which are done by 1 percent of the clinics. Planned Parenthood clinic services include cancer screenings, family planning, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Republicans favor shifting Planned Parenthood’s federal funds to community clinics, and they grilled Richards on why doing so would restrict access to care.

“You can’t say that Planned Parenthood is like the only place” for low-income families to go, said Representative Mia Love, a Utah Republican.


READ: To some, Planned Parenthood is immoral; to others, it’s doing God’s work (COMMENTARY)


 

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts”

“But it’s obviously a place that 2.7 million patients choose to come to every year,” Richards responded, adding that the move would particularly hurt low-income, uninsured and rural patients.

Planned Parenthood has been under fire for months over videos that an anti-abortion group produced and posted online.

Democrats had asked that David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist behind the videos, attend the hearing as well, but Republican leaders did not invite him.

On the panel, Democrats defended the group and questioned Republicans’ motives.

“What is Congress doing here?” asked Democrat Peter Welch of Vermont. “We’re having an argument that’s never going to end about abortion, but we’re proposing to proceed in a way that will have collateral consequences that compromises … women’s health.”

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  • Bernardo

    And the irony is that Obamacare is replacing the need for Planned Parenthood.

    Google it.

  • MarkE

    How dare this uppity woman with her butch haircut earn such an outrageous stipend! Doesn’t she realize that rarefied air of compensation is only reserved for the good ol’ boys at the health insurance giants, the pharmacological titans, and the mega-hospital CEOs who are driving up health care costs at five to six times the rate of other costs of living? She has some nerve! (snark applied here, in case you missed it.)

  • Larry

    Cecil Richards tore Rep. Jason Chaffetz a new one for trying to confront her with statistics compiled by an anti-abortion group. Stats he falsely claimed came from PP’s corporate documents.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2015/09/check-your-source-planned-parenthood-president-humiliates-congressman

    If the anti-abortion crowd had a legitimate argument, they would not have to lie so often and so badly. The whole congressional hearing was based on a hoax.

  • Larry

    Um, no. This was explained and illustrated in the article. Many of PP’s patients are on Medicaid.
    “Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal funds, largely in Medicaid reimbursements.

    Obamacare does not provide services, only methods of payment. Your premise is inherently ignorant. Even the existence of payment systems such as private health insurance and Medicaid does not obviate PP’s existence as a provider of health service.

  • John

    If you are going to talk about abortion, make sure you mention the elephant in the room….wait, I mean the dead baby in the room.

  • Larry

    Its not about abortion.

    At least that is what the Republican Congress members are claiming.

    Its about trying to punish a provider of abortion based on a defamatory hoax accusing them of selling tissue volunteered by its patients and profiting off of federal funding.

    So are you calling those good members of Congress are not being truthful? I sure am. 🙂

  • Jack

    Of course it’s about abortion — specifically at a stage when the victim is a baby with developing organs to extract.

    What the heck else is it about? Wind surfing?

  • Bernardo

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/09/obamacare-is-robbing-planned-parenthood-of-clients/

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/08/us-usa-plannedparenthood-insight-idUSKCN0R80B420150908

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/07/22/are-being-double-taxed-why-obamacare-may-render-planned-parenthood-obsolete/

    “Many of the clinical services Planned Parenthood offers— including Pap smears, breast exams, tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and abortions— can be performed by gynecologists, family practitioners and pediatricians. The ACA guarantees coverage for the vast majority of women’s reproductive needs.”

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Criminalizing abortion does not reduce abortion, just makes it unsafe. It is bad public policy. It can be reduced by providing options for independence for women. Of course, that is counter to the slut-shaming agenda of the religious right.

  • Larry

    And the fact that several million people continue to go to PP for such services means there is still very much a need for them. The ACA does not replace Medicaid. You do not understand how health insurance reimbursement works or are willfully ignoring such facts.

  • Larry

    Thank you for admitting the Republican Congress Members do not have a legitimate purpose for these hearings. It is all really about attacking abortion rights through denial of access.

    The organ donation for profit is a complete lie. One well noted by everyone who does not have an agenda to attack abortion rights pretty much the day the hoax came out.

    You are beholden to attacking abortion rights, so you will maintain the farce for as long as possible.

  • Bernardo

    You might want to reinforce your comments with some reputable references and once again you obviously missed this:

    “Many of the clinical services Planned Parenthood offers— including Pap smears, breast exams, tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and abortions— can be performed by gynecologists, family practitioners and pediatricians. The ACA guarantees coverage for the vast majority of women’s reproductive needs.”

    The death knell for PP as the ACA continues to expand across the nation.

  • Bernardo

    But criminalizing practicing unsafe s-ex just might.

  • Larry

    You might want to learn the difference between health insurance one pays premiums for and that which is public assistance (the source of the majority of PP’s federal funds).

    The existence of other clinics does not negate the necessity of PP. Those who qualify for the ACA are not on Medicaid. 2 different sources for patients.

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