Congress holds first hearing into Planned Parenthood organ harvesting scandal
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Two abortion survivors, a pro-life expert, and an abortion attorney will testify in Congress' first hearing September 9 on whether Planned Parenthood's fetal parts program violates federal law.
The hearing, entitled "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider," may not be a smooth one, however. While House Judiciary Committee Republicans said they are "pleased" to hold it, the committee's top Democrat co-authored a letter in which he urged the committee to either cancel the hearing or to investigate the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).
CMP conducted undercover interviews that led to the hearing, the first of several that are expected in the current Congress.
Of the four witnesses, three are pro-life. According to an e-mail from the committee, the first witness is James Bopp, General Counsel for the D.C.-based National Right to Life. The other two pro-life testimonies will come from pro-life advocates Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen, both of whom survived abortions.
The lone pro-abortion witness will be Priscilla Smith, Director of the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale's law school. Smith is perhaps most famous for fighting the federal partial-birth abortion ban in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart.
No witnesses work for Planned Parenthood. Phone calls to the majority and minority staffs of the committee about why this was the case went unanswered by press time. A phone call to Planned Parenthood was not immediately returned.
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A press release from the committee says that the committee "has been conducting an in-depth investigation to determine whether the federal law that prohibits partial-birth abortions and the killing of infants born alive were violated, the history of enforcement of those laws, and the sufficiency of those laws."
"The hearing will examine details of late-term abortions, what is involved in altering an abortion in order to harvest fetal organs, and a history of the laws that protect, or fail to protect, the unborn from these barbaric practices," says the release.
In a statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks, R-AZ, said that “Planned Parenthood and its executives must answer for the alleged atrocities brought to light in the videos by the Center for Medical Progress."
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to question a panel of experts on this issue in order to ascertain how Planned Parenthood may have violated federal laws in the course of its alleged practices, and the atrocities associated with altering abortions in order to obtain the body parts of fetuses."
In his letter, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, D-MI, said that CMP may have violated federal laws during its investigations. Along with Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings of Maryland, D-MD, Conyers urged the Judiciary Committee to cancel next week's hearing or include CMP in its investigations.