Over the last couple of months, there has been much controversy surrounding government funding of Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that does research into and gives advice on contraception, family planning and reproductive problems.
About three months ago, a small group of anti-abortion activists called the Center for Medical Progress, began releasing videos. Republicans and conservatives say those videos show that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit and violating other federal prohibitions, such as federal law at 42 U.S. Code 289g-2, which strongly prohibits the sale or purchase of aborted fetal tissue, according to the Cornell University Law School.
Specifically, the law states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”
Planned Parenthood called the videos a “smear campaign,” alleging that the footage is edited and taken out of context. Accusations have been flying back and forth between liberals and conservatives as this battle within Congress has been waged. In fact, for several weeks it seemed as though the issue of whether to fund Planned Parenthood would temporarily shut down our government.
According to the Washington Post, after they returned from their five-week August recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) planned to attach a bill defunding Planned Parenthood to a must-pass bill that funds the government.
As of now, it looks like the government will not be shutting down in the immediate future. On Wednesday September 30, the House of Representatives passed a bill to keep the government running until December. According to the New York Times, only 91 Republicans supported the idea, because it included funding for Planned Parenthood.
Anti-abortion activist Gianna Jessen had an opportunity to testify against Planned Parenthood in a House Judiciary hearing on September 9, 2015. 38 years ago, Jessen’s birth mother chose to have a saline abortion at a Planned Parenthood facility seven and half months into her pregnancy.
“Planned Parenthood is not ashamed of what they have done or what they will continue to do. But we will have to give an account as a nation before God for our apathy and for the murder of over 50 million children in the womb,” said Jessen in her testimony. “…I would ask Planned Parenthood the following questions 38 years later: If abortion is about women’s rights then where were mine?”
“It’s been proven that they lie about their abortion percentages so that they can receive more federal funding,” said freshman Kathleen McTighe.
“So I think they should be partially defunded, because tax dollars are being put towards abortions and all these other things we don’t really know about, and I don’t think that those sorts of things should be funded by taxes.”
Testifying on behalf of Planned Parenthood was the organization’s president Cecile Richards, who reportedly claimed that she previously was unaware of the existence of those who had survived despite their mothers undergoing abortions. She also said that the videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress were part of an unsuccessful three-year sting by anti-abortion activists.
“They continued to badger and badger and badger our doctors to try to get them to commit to something that was unethical or illegal,” Richards said.
Additionally she apologized for her staff members’ tones and statements in those recordings.
“Of course no one wants to hear that fetal tissue is being sold for a profit. No one wants to think about fetuses dying, but defunding Planned Parenthood would do more harm than good; the birth control, STI testing, and support that they provide to young and low-income families is absolutely critical,” said freshman Leeza Wayne.