The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Thursday regarding legislation authored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., vice chairman of the committee, and Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., that would end taxpayer funding for abortion providers who violate the law.
Blackburn’s bill would strengthen the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, and Ellmers’ bill would strengthen the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
Both bills prohibit any provider found to have violated existing laws from participating in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP. The bills would also allow states to prohibit providers suspected of violating the law from their Medicaid programs.
The legislation is in response to allegations that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is trafficking aborted fetal body parts, which is a felony in the United States. Spokespersons for Planned Parenthood have denied illegal conduct.
At the hearing, Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, said there is “credible concern” that Planned Parenthood is committing “potential felonies” and that funds they currently receive should be redirected to “true health care providers not plagued by scandal.”
Casey Mattox, a senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said that Planned Parenthood is a “politically powerful organization” that dips into its “excess revenue” to “protect its political allies.”
Judy Waxman, the former vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, called Planned Parenthood a “respected, high-quality provider” that is often “the sole safety-net provider” in the communities in which it operates.
Members of Congress questioned the panelists and offered their own thoughts on the matter.
“We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life, whether born or unborn, without diminishing the value of all life,” Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., said.
Planned Parenthood supporters argued that the videos were taken out of context.
Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said that Planned Parenthood was the victim of a “smear campaign” brought about by “highly edited videos.”
“I resent the fact that we’re even having this hearing,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said.
Schakowsky has called for an investigation into the Center for Medical Progress and David Daleiden, the filmmaker behind the undercover videos.
Mattox countered those arguments.
“If you have access to YouTube, you have access to the full versions of the videos,” he said.
The Center for Medical Progress has made the full footage of each meeting portrayed in its videos available on its YouTube account.