House committee subpoenas Planned Parenthood footage, challenging court order
WASHINGTON, DC, September 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A House Committee has issued a subpoena for all of the unedited video footage showing evidence of Planned Parenthood's allegedly illegal fetal harvesting practices. The move could pick a fight with a district court that has ordered the same video withheld from the public as part of a lawsuit filed by the National Abortion Federation.
Yesterday, House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, issued the subpoena to the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).
A committee spokesperson told LifeSiteNews that the conflicting orders from the committee and the district court should not be an issue because Chaffetz and members of the committee view their subpoena as a court order from a co-equal branch of government. "The judicial branch essentially can't tell the legislative branch who it can and can't talk to," explained the spokesperson.
"The enjoinment from the court for the videos -- it's a little unclear. CMP... has two court orders, one that restricts them from releasing the videos, and now we have a subpoena that orders them to give us the videos."
While the court's enjoinment bans CMP from releasing its video to "a third party," said the spokesperson, "we're not a third party. We're Congress. Whereas the courts might say 'you're a third party.'"
Committee Communications Director MJ Henshaw told LifeSiteNews that while three House committees are investigating Planned Parenthood for potentially illegal fetal harvesting, Chaffetz's efforts are focused on "better understanding the role of federal funding in Planned Parenthood operations," given that its state and federal funding total more than $500 million.
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"In the era of Obamacare, when the administration is forcing all Americans to purchase insurance, subsidizing Planned Parenthood is duplicative and unnecessary," added Henshaw.
In a statement, Chaffetz said that “Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation want to hide their activities from the American people," but "the action of the court will not thwart or impede Congress’ Constitutional duty and right to conduct effective oversight." He also announced that the committee "will hold a hearing on federal funding for the organization later this month.”
The subpoena came a day before CMP's lawyers at the Thomas More Society filed a "Mandamus" petition to overturn the District Court's restriction on CMP's ability to release its video. It came three days before CMP is expected to be in court for a hearing, on September 18.