Some of our lawmakers in Congress are embroiled in a stand-off over those crazy, heavily-edited Planned Parenthood videos, which experts are predicting is likely to result in a government shutdown.
On one side of the Planned Parenthood aisle is newly-elected Congressman Daniel Donovan, who voted with his fellow GOP House members in favor of the bill to defund Planned Parenthood for a year (unless the organization certifies that its clinics will not perform abortions during that period). On the other, is democrat Congressman Jerrold Nadler who took a vehement stand against the inquiry into Planned Parenthood’s practices at a congressional hearing earlier this month, and, like most House democrats, voted against the bill.
A procedural vote to defund the Planned Parenthood failed in the Senate Monday, and now some conservative lawmakers are threatening to link the issue to a spending bill which must be passed before the new fiscal year beginning October 1 in order to keep most government agencies running.
A spokesperson for Donovan said that the congressman would oppose a bill calling for a government shutdown, and that the measure was never intended to defund women’s health services. Rather, it would “redirect” funds from Planned Parenthood to other federally-funded health centers.
“This legislation redirects women’s health funding to other qualified health centers while the House investigates the facts surrounding the disturbing videos that recently surfaced,” said Donovan in a statement.
In Donovan’s district, which includes Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn, there are three federally qualified health centers — which must meet several requirements, including treating patients regardless of ability to pay and operating in an underserved population — but all are faith-based organizations who told us they do not provide abortion services. The sole Planned Parenthood location in the district, located in Saint George, Staten Island, also does not provide abortion services, but refers patients to locations that do.
The selectively edited Planned Parenthood footage, shot by an anti-abortion group, appears to show that Planned Parenthood may have profited from the donation of fetal tissue, and that clinicians may have modified their surgical procedures in order to salvage fetal organs for donation purposes — charges Planned Parenthood denies.
Nadler, whose district includes parts of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Gravesend, slammed the House’s Planned Parenthood inquiry at the recent hearing, calling the makers of the videos “liars in a long line of liars.”
“Clearly, the majority is not interested in a serious inquiry into the accusations made against Planned Parenthood,” said Nadler. “This hearing is a farce. Despite the heavily edited videos, there has been no evidence uncovered that Planned Parenthood does not comply with the law.”
At the hearing — which was tellingly titled “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices of the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider” — Nadler noted that this is not the first or second time an anti-abortion activist group has lured Congress republicans into its charade with “sensational, unsubstantiated claims” about Planned Parenthood:
“In 2012, anti-abortion groups released videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood was conducting sex-selective abortion. And it was not true.
“In 2011, anti-abortion groups released videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood condoned sex trafficking and statutory rape. And following the release of those videos, Republicans in Congress tried to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and nearly shut down the government. But of course, Planned Parenthood had already reported the actors claiming to be sex traffickers to the FBI. So once again, not true!
“The list goes on. In 2010, videos falsely claimed women were pressured into abortion – not true; 2009 false claims about clinics avoiding parental consent – not true; 2002 false claims about statutory rape – not true.
“And for a real sense of déjà vu – in 2000 videos were released claiming Planned Parenthood was participating in illegal tissue sales. But of course, when the man who made those videos came before Congress, he totally recanted his testimony, and an FBI investigation did not lead to any charges against Planned Parenthood.
Other New York legislators also had harsh words for Congress’ antics, including State Senator Diane Savino, whose district overlaps with Donovan’s.
“It’s very unfortunate that Congress continues to devalue women and it’s equally disappointing that our new congressman went along with this charade, especially since he’s been such a strong supporter of women’s issues like domestic violence,” said Savino in a statement Monday.