US House begins investigation into Planned Parenthood
By Michelle Bauman
Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2011 / 06:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce has launched an investigation into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates to determine whether the organization is violating regulations on taxpayer funding or failing to report criminal activity.
“The Committee has questions about the policies in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in a Sept. 15 letter to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.
The committee gave Planned Parenthood two weeks to provide documents pertaining to its billing practices, use of federal funds, and procedures regarding detecting and reporting criminal conduct including sex abuse and sex trafficking.
Among the documents requested were all internal audits conducted by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010, as well as any audits by state agencies since 1991 that are not publicly available.
The letter requested details on the amount of money received by Planned Parenthood under different federal funding programs, as well as documentation of policies and procedures to ensure that federal money received by Planned Parenthood “is not being used to impermissibly subsidize abortion.”
The House committee also asked for information about the organization’s policies in place to prevent improper billing and overbilling.
Furthermore, it requested documentation of Planned Parenthood’s policies and procedures to ensure that criminal conduct, including sex trafficking and sexual abuse, are reported to the proper authorities.
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) responded with a Sept. 27 letter that criticized the investigation and accused House Republicans of having “unfairly smeared” Planned Parenthood.
The letter questioned “whether Planned Parenthood is being singled out as part of a Republican vendetta.”
Planned Parenthood’s business practices were placed in the spotlight after the pro-life group Live Action released undercover videos that showed several Planned Parenthood workers and managers appearing to assist child sex traffickers and cover up cases of sexual abuse of minors.
Reps. Waxman and DeGette said that they were “aware of no predicate that would justify” the request for documents.
They expressed their opposition to the investigation, which they said appeared “to be designed to harass and shut down an organization simply because Republicans disagree with the work that it does.”
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, applauded the investigation.
“AUL welcomes the news that Congress is investigating the abortion mega-provider Planned Parenthood for financial improprieties and its poor handling of the public trust,” she said.
In July, Americans United for Life issued a report alleging that Planned Parenthood had been misusing Medicaid and Title X funds.
“The American taxpayer does not want to be in the business of abortion, and this investigation is an important first step toward ending public funding of the nation’s largest abortion provider,” Yoest said.
She also thanked Rep. Stearns for his willingness to “look more closely at Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for their fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars, as outlined in AUL’s report.”
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said that the effort “to further investigate Planned Parenthood’s abusive and lawless activities is essential to protecting victims of abuse, our young girls, and our unborn brothers and sisters.”
“We applaud Congress’s first concrete steps to investigate Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion business in the nation,” said Rose.
“Americans stand with Rep. Stearns’s step to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their on-going abusive activity that endangers women, the victims of abuse and young girls.”