Planned Parenthood’s leader defended the group against accusations that it sells tissue from aborted fetuses for profit, telling U.S. lawmakers that claims based on undercover videos made by anti-abortion groups are “offensive and categorically untrue.”
“Planned Parenthood policies not only comply with, but indeed go beyond the requirements of the law,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday in Washington.
Using fetal tissue in medical research is legal, she said.
Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, said Planned Parenthood doesn’t need taxpayer dollars.
“As far as I can tell, this is an organization that doesn’t need federal subsidies,” Chaffetz said at a hearing on the reproductive health-care provider’s use of taxpayer funding. “They’re pretty good at fundraising; they don’t really need taxpayer dollars.”
Conservative House Republicans have demanded a government shutdown if lawmakers don’t defund Planned Parenthood, the women’s reproductive health-care provider whose services include abortion.
The Republican-controlled Senate and House plan to pass a short-term spending bill this week that includes Planned Parenthood funds, though that sets up another showdown when the measure expires Dec. 11.
Conservatives have said they are outraged by undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing reimbursement for providing tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers. The organization has said it doesn’t sell fetal tissue for profit, and instead receives the cost of collecting and delivering it.
Richards said the videos were “deceptively edited” and that threats against doctors who provide abortion and their families have gotten worse since the videos surfaced this summer, Richards said.
“There is one simple reason we are at this point – Republicans want to outlaw a woman’s right to choose,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, said at the start of the hearing. “We need to recognize this fight for what it is; it is about banning a woman’s right to choose, and it is being driven by politicians most of whom are men, who think they have a right to dictate to women about their most personal and private decisions.”
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican whose decision last week to resign was partly driven by the dispute over Planned Parenthood, said Sunday the House will set up a select committee to investigate the videos.
Republicans have proposed transferring Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood to other women’s health providers.
Planned Parenthood operates through a national office and 59 affiliates, which provide disease screenings and other medical services through about 700 local health centers.
The group receives about one-third of its annual revenue, or about $450 million, from federal sources, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Of that amount, about $390 million is provided from Medicaid. Planned Parenthood affiliates reported spending $64.4 million in Title X funding, or federal family planning funding, in fiscal 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service.
A ban on federally funded abortions has been in place for decades.
Recent laws have made exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest or if the mother’s life is endangered.