The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a rather provocatively titled hearing on Planned Parenthood the day after Congress returns to Washington from summer recess, and it’s clear where members of Connecticut’s delegation stand on the issue.
The hearing, called “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the horrific abortion practices at the nation’s largest abortion provider,” is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9. It follows the release this summer of nine videos in which Planned Parenthood executives discuss how aborted fetus tissue is transferred to scientific researchers.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to question a panel of experts on this issue in order to ascertain how Planned Parenthood may have violated federal laws in the course of its alleged practices, and the atrocities associated with altering abortions in order to obtain the body parts of fetuses,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a release. “This hearing is the next step in the Committee’s ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood and part of the committee’s commitment to fighting for the rights of the unborn.”
The slate of experts scheduled to testify has not been released.
Connecticut is not represented on the House Judiciary Committee, but both senators and members of the House from the Nutmeg state have weighed in, speaking in support of Planned Parenthood.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent out a fundraising request to supporters last week, referencing the hearing and calling its organizers “anti-women extremists.”
“They really do want us to choose between funding women’s healthcare and keeping our government open. And, what’s more, they’re going on the attack against anyone who opposes them,” Blumenthal wrote to supporters.
“This attack on Planned Parenthood is particularly dangerous for Connecticut women because of the extraordinary service it provides,” Blumenthal wrote in an August opinion piece published in the Hartford Courant. “Each year, 64,000 Connecticut women visit the 17 Planned Parenthood centers in our state, where they collectively receive more than 80,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, more than 8,000 Pap tests, and more than 3,000 breast exams.”
The issue is wrapped up in a possible government shutdown, with legislation funding federal agencies required by Oct. 1. The Senate was six votes short of defunding Planned Parenthood before Congress took its summer break, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the Associated Press that an orchestrated government shutdown over Planned Parenthood is not likely.
“The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood,” McConnell told the Associated Press. “So that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood.”
Sen. Chris Murphy said in July in a speech on the floor of the Senate that shutting down the government over ideological differences had been attempted before.
“We’ve been through government shutdowns prompted by ideological politics before, and a lot of people got hurt. A lot of people got hurt,” he said. “if you’re going to shut down the government, your reason for doing it better be pretty good. The reason a couple years ago was a miserable one — taking health care away from millions of Americans who are getting it because of the Affordable Care Act. But this one is just as insidious. I don’t know where women in my state would be without Planned Parenthood.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, issued a statement earlier this year in support of Planned Parenthood, also calling those standing against the organization “extremists.”
DeLauro said, “The vital preventative care and family planning services they provide improve the quality of life for millions of Americans each year. But extremists are trying to discredit one of the nation’s leading providers of women’s health services, impose their ideology on deeply personal health choices, and threaten the well-being of women across the country. This is wrong and dishonest. I will continue to stand up for Planned Parenthood and all the good they do for families across America. Defunding Planned Parenthood would be a catastrophe for the 2.7 million women, men, and young people served by Planned Parenthood.”
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, wrote in January about her history with Planned Parenthood on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The House ultimately passed a bill that day designed to ban federal funding of abortions, though it ultimately did not become law.
“During college, I volunteered at Planned Parenthood,” Esty wrote. “There, I witnessed the very real and profound impact reproductive issues have on women’s lives. A woman’s healthcare decisions should be made by the woman, her family, and her doctor — not by politicians. On this anniversary, I believe we should commit to increasing access to quality healthcare, promoting comprehensive sexual education, and supporting efforts to combat domestic violence. The current challenges facing our country demand us to work together on the issues that matter to the American people, not refight old ideological battles.”
Jordan Fenster can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.