Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member Full Committee Hearing on “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“As today’s one-sided hearing title suggests, we will likely hear a series of allegations leveled against Planned Parenthood that it engaged in unlawful conduct based solely on a series of deceptively-edited undercover videos. 

“Notably, the Center for Medical Progress – the entity that filmed these videos and which could answer significant and troubling questions about their accuracy and veracity -- is not here today. 

“In addition, the Majority chose not to invite Planned Parenthood, the target of today’s attacks. 

“As we hear from our witnesses, we should keep in mind the following points.

“To begin with, there is no credible evidence that Planned Parenthood violated the law.

“The videos wrongly imply that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue and organs for profit.

“The law governing fetal tissue research - which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 1993 - provides, in part, that no one can ‘knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration.’ 

“In short, for-profit sales and purchases of fetal tissue are illegal.  Similarly, federal law prohibits for-profit sales and purchases of human organs.

“In both cases, however, ‘valuable consideration’ does not include reasonable payments to cover certain costs associated with either fetal tissue or organ donations.

“The Center for Medical Progress’s doctored videos do not support the allegation that Planned Parenthood sought profit from fetal tissue or organ donations.

“Rather, they show, among other things, discussions over payments for costs associated with fetal tissue or organ donations, payments that the law clearly allows. “The videos also wrongly suggest that doctors at Planned Parenthood violated the law by altering the procedures used to perform abortions so as to preserve fetal tissue or organs.  There is no evidence that Planned Parenthood has altered methods.

“Moreover, the statutory prohibition on changing the timing, method, or procedures of an abortion to preserve fetal tissue applies only to certain federally-funded research, and such research has not been funded since 2007.

“In other words, that legal prohibition did not apply to Planned Parenthood at the time the Center’s undercover videos were filmed.

“Finally, no evidence supports the suggestion that Planned Parenthood doctors may have violated the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood officials refer to ‘intact’ fetuses and tissue specimens in many of the videos is immaterial.

“To violate the Act, the physician must partially deliver a living fetus and have the intent to terminate that fetus after this partial delivery.

None of the videos show any Planned Parenthood official engaging in or suggesting the use of such a procedure.

“In short, no reliable evidence demonstrates that Planned Parenthood violated federal law.        

“What is troubling about the videos is the manner in which they were produced.

“The Center for Medical Progress created a false tissue procurement company to use as a front in order to infiltrate Planned Parenthood facilities and to create the undercover videos, and may have deceived any number of state and federal authorities to do so.

“Additionally, the Center heavily edited the videos to present a misleading picture of the surreptitiously-recorded conversations in order to suggest illegal conduct by Planned Parenthood and to maximize the videos’ shock value.

“A forensic analysis submitted to Congress has concluded that ‘thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict.’

“And, even the alleged ‘full footage’ released by the Center includes – and I quote – ‘cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle,’ as well as ‘more than 30 minutes of missing video’ and took dialogue out of context ‘so as to substantively and significantly alter the meaning of the dialogue.’

“Finally, we must step back and look at the context in which this hearing is being held.

“The real purpose of the videos is to undermine one of the Nation’s leading providers of high‑quality health care for women.

“Planned Parenthood serves 2.7 million Americans a year, and 1 in 3 women will have used Planned Parenthood services by the age of 45.

“Some abortion opponents are attempting to use these videos as a pretext to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  If successful, this effort would hurt those who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services and doing so would not prevent abortions.

“It is already the case that no federal funds may be used to pay for abortions with certain limited exceptions.

“Instead, federal funding pays for Planned Parenthood’s many critical health services, such as annual wellness exams, cancer screenings, contraception, and to further the study of sexually transmitted diseases.

“Surely, the Congress has better things to do than spend its time helping to undermine an organization that provides vital health services.  Thank you.”

Priscilla Smith Testimony - PP Hearing 9.9.15

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