The U.S. House of Representatives has established a special committee that will investigate Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue. The investigation is in response to a series of viral videos regarding the organization's abortion and fetal tissue practices.
The resolution was pushed by House Republicans, passing by 242 to 184 on Oct. 7, with only two Democrats voting in favor, NBC reports.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio announced his resignation in September amid pressure by conservative Republicans who aimed to threaten a government shutdown if a motion to defund Planned Parenthood was not brought to President Obama’s desk. Democrats blocked this effort to pull Planned Parenthood funding.
The subcommittee will be under the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fox News reports.
Scrutiny over Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue has intensified recently after the release of videos that imply that the group may be illegally selling fetal tissue after abortions.
However, the videos were created by anti-abortion activists, and the Planned Parenthood officials say that they are heavily edited to give a misleading impression, Huffington Post reports. A forensic analysis of the videos confirms that the videos were deceptively edited and manipulated. In addition, multiple state investigations and a federal investigation have been unable to find any facts to support the claims that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit.
Planned Parenthood receives $500 million each year from the federal government, none of which can be used for abortions. The group devotes the majority of their resources to women's healthcare services such as providing birth control, cancer screenings and tending to patients infected with STDs.
Republicans have expressed great concern over Planned Parenthood’s privately-funded abortion practices. While the content of the controversial videos have been called into question, they are being used as evidence to pursue an investigation.
“There is no issue more deserving of our undivided attention than unborn life,” Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said during the House debate on Oct. 7, according to Fox News. “The footage released raises serious questions.”
“Even if Planned Parenthood complied with the law, it’s clear we need to learn more about their barbaric tactics so we can amend those laws and ensure these practices never happen again,” Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina said, according to the Huffington Post.
The resolution to open up a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood has been heavily criticized by Democratic members of Congress. Several House members have called the motion a baldly political move.
"Here we are about to waste an enormous amount of time by members of Congress and their staff, an enormous amount of money just for political gain," Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado said, according to NBC.
This will be the second special panel pushed by Republicans since they gained control of the House in 2011, Huffington Post reports. The other is the investigation of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, which has come under fire recently after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California boasted that the panel had damaged the brand of presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"It's become very obvious that this is all part of a political agenda to make abortion illegal in this country,” Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President, Dawn Laguens, said of the new House committee, according to NBC. “Despite the clear political agenda behind these investigations, we continue to cooperate fully with all of them.”