In any other setting, having a biased jury and not being invited to attend your own hearing would be considered a kangaroo court, or at the very least, a violation of the sixth amendment. In Congress, though, it’s apparently called “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining The Horrific Abortion Practices at The Nation’s Leading Abortion Provider.”
Last Wednesday, a predominantly Republican House Judiciary Committee (HJC) conducted the first of a series of formal hearings aimed at uncovering the “truth” behind videos released by the Center for Medical Progress — an infamous anti-abortion organization. The videos supposedly show Planned Parenthood executives selling fetal body parts to medical research firms for profit.
First off, the videos have already been shown to be highly tampered-with and show nothing even remotely illegal. Take away the deceptive editing and the incriminating freeze frames, and we’re left with the realization that all Planned Parenthood is guilty of is being reimbursed for the “time and effort” they spend procuring fetal specimens. I would also like to point out that if this wasn’t the case, these fetuses would be headed to a landfill instead of advancing important medical research.
Secondly, while I accept a popular opinion that these accusations should be investigated further, the way in which these proceedings are configured is hardly unbiased. According to the Guardian, the “panel of experts” who testified at Wednesday’s hearing included two women who professed to be abortion survivors, famous natural right to life lawyer James Bopp and Priscilla J. Smith, a prestigious lawyer who has a long history of fighting for reproductive rights. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a fair fight, and Smith was used as an ideological punching bag rather than an actual expert.
Additionally, doctors, film analysts and medical research firms were not included in the hearing. The reason this doesn’t make sense is because these professionals are the most likely to uncover the truth behind the Planned Parenthood scandal. One would also suspect that they would be the first to be heard if this trial was really about investigating these videos. But, of course, to believe that would be naive.
The hearings are set very close to the Sept. 30 deadline for the passing of the government’s annual budget. Even more suspicious is the fact that only a week ago, a letter written by Ted Cruz was sent to Senate Republicans for signature. The petition asked Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell “not to schedule or facilitate the consideration of any legislation that authorizes or appropriates federal dollars for Planned Parenthood.” In plain English, this likely means Senate Republicans will try to strip the budget of Planned Parenthood funding.
Ironically, while Planned Parenthood does receive federal funding, none of that money is allowed to go toward abortion procedures. On top of that, only 3 percent of the total services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortion-related, while the other 97 percent of activities are related to crucial women’s health issues such as testing for STIs, providing contraception, cancer screenings and the like.
Thankfully, even if the Republican party’s agenda is successful and they can muster enough votes to defund the women’s clinic, the Obama Administration has stated that they will veto the bill. If this leads to an already-likely government shutdown, the GOP will again play the villain in a long series of shutdowns caused by their ideological temper tantrums.
For now, the Republican party seems hell-bent on aborting justice, civil service and common sense in the name of discrediting Planned Parenthood. Maybe a more fitting name for the hearing would have been “The Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt: Yet Another Example of the GOP’s Self-Destructive War on Women.”
Collegian Columnist Paul Hazelton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @HazeltonPaul.