A U.S. House of Representatives committee has asked the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) to turn over more than 10 years worth of records, ostensibly in an effort to ensure that no public funds have been spent to carry out abortions.
The investigation, ordered by the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee chairman, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), has largely been seen by PPFA advocates as the latest Republican line of attack against the agency, which provides more low-cost women’s health services than any organization in the country.
The use of public funds for elective abortion procedures is prohibited by law, and the group insists they do not put tax dollars to use for such purposes. PPFA is audited every year, and the results are published online.
House Republicans are demanding PPFA turn over internal audit documents from 1998-2010, showing exactly how it spent taxpayers’ money. They’ve also required documentation on how the group’s compliance with federal law is upheld, and any unpublished state audits over the last 20 years.
“We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood,” the group said in a prepared statement. “The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings. These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.”
PPFA president Cecile Richards added: “This politically motivated investigation is a continuation of the efforts of earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood, and more disturbingly, women’s access to the primary and preventive care they need. At a time when the American people need jobs, some members of Congress are instead misusing their political power to go after health care access for the most vulnerable women in the country. We are certain that the millions of women and men who count on Planned Parenthood will make their voices heard and speak out, just as they did during the budget battle in the spring.”
The demand was also roundly criticized in a letter (PDF) to Chairman Stearns, written by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).
“These unfounded legislative attacks on Planned Parenthood have consistently failed,” they wrote. “They were opposed by the Senate and President Obama and are not supported by the American people. It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again. Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood told Raw Story that they will comply with the committee “in a timely manner.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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