Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Richards Defends Planned Parenthood to Congress

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, appeared before Congress today to
defend the non-profit organization against the allegations made against it -- namely, the accusation that the organization is selling fetal tissue. Within the past few months, Republicans have taken this issue and extended it as an attempt to cut federal funding to the organization. Numerous states (e.g. Missouri) have already conducted investigations into Planned Parenthood's involvement in illegal tissue exchange, all of which have returned with negative results. 

As seen in the hearing today, the focus was on federal funding of Planned Parenthood. However, the debate quickly devolved into a discussion on misogyny. Although some of Richards' answers to questions were certainly roundabout, during the hearing, Richards was continuously cut off, talked over, and disrespected by multiple representatives. 

In addition, Representative Brenda Lawrence brought up a flaw in the need to even call for the hearing. She says, "[the government] cannot use federal dollars for abortion...[the money] is reimbursement [from Medicaid]." To expand on her statement, a majority of federal funding for Planned Parenthood is not direct, but rather received as reimbursement by Medicaid patients who see Planned Parenthood as the specialist for abortions. In short, Planned Parenthood is primarily supported by American citizens who use their services; the organization would not exist if there was no need for it.

Since federal dollars cannot be used for abortion, and do not directly flow to Planned Parenthood, what was the point of calling for this hearing? The answer lies in the political importance of Planned Parenthood. The GOP called for this meeting as an attempt to condemn the undercover videos put out by Planned Parenthood, yes, but also as an attempt to shut down an organization that seems to be clearly affiliated with the Democrats. 

Two things to think about:

Was Richards an injured party in this debate or was she attempting to be just as manipulative? What do you believe were the motives behind this meeting? 

NBC News
NY Times


Abhishek Paramasivan said...

I think there were motives from both sides behind this meeting, with Planned Parenthood wanting to, as you say, defend the claims that they are selling fetal tissue, but also to make sure Planned Parenthood maintains its public image by appearing in front of congress and thus also getting a national press audience. My thoughts for the republicans are that they probably wanted to try to make the president of the organization let information slip that would incriminate Planned Parenthood of selling fetus parts. When this failed that's probably why they shifted their focus to how they spend money and tried to make some argument on why they should be unfunded.

Cami Nemschoff said...

Similar to Abishek, I believe both sides had motives into entering this conversation. However, I see it as unecessary for this conversation to have occured. I see it that the anti-planned parenthood supporters wanted to use this event as a way to bring negative press to planned parenthood. Even if there were no findings of Planned Parenthood lying, bad press is bad press and this could shine negative light onto the organization. Given that there have been numerous studies that have proven this assumption to be false, I feel that this discussion should not have even been allowed since it was unecessary. Also, I think it was inappropriate for the anti-planned parenthood supporters to verbally attack Richard and to change the topic of the conversation from what it originally intended to be about.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Abishek and Cami that a main motive for Republicans to hold this hearing was to allow Richards to self-incriminate Planned Parenthood of illegal activities. I would like to highlight one of the points that Representative Gerald Connolly (D-VA) made during the hearing. If the real motive of this hearing was to decipher whether or not the accusations posed in the July videos were true, then why was the creator of the videos, David Daleiden, not present at the hearings? If the accusations made in the videos were actually true, Daleiden could have easily refuted Richards' testimony. He could have stated, under oath at the congressional hearing, that these videos were not "highly edited" as Richards' had claimed repeatedly. In my opinion, Daleiden's absence was not a coincidence. As an analogy to the situation at hand, there are a couple of reasons why lawyers do not bring certain witnesses to up to the stand to testify in court. The first and most formidable reason is that the witness does not have a story credible or strong enough to stand up to cross-examination. Similarly, the witness himself may not be credible and may be unreliable. For example, a repeated felon would make a horrible witness. Back to the point, Daleiden's absence may signify the lack of credibility and reliability of videos and the real goal of this controversial hearing.