National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

House approves $800K for panel targeting abortion providers; panel makes allegation against PPGC

The House on Wednesday voted 234-181 to approve a resolution that authorizes an additional $800,000 in funding for a congressional panel targeting abortion providers, doubling the panel's budget, USA Today reports (Collins, USA Today, 12/1).

Background

The subcommittee is the fourth House committee to investigate Planned Parenthood following the release of misleading videos targeting the organization. The subcommittee is allowed to probe, among other topics, federal funding for health care providers who also provide abortion services and providers' practices for abortions later in pregnancy.

The subcommittee has issued several subpoenas requesting the names of fetal tissue researchers, spurring criticism from medical groups and liberal lawmakers who are concerned that the subpoenas could put researchers, students and medical professionals at risk of antiabortion-rights violence.

Liberal lawmakers in the House have repeatedly criticized the investigation and called for the subcommittee's disbandment.

Additional funding

The $800,000 allocation comes in addition to the panel's previously approved $790,000 budget, putting the panel on track to receive more than $1.5 million by 2017. The House Committee on Administration approved the additional funding in November, sending it to the House floor for a final vote.

The panel is scheduled to submit its final report at the end of the year (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/17).

New allegation

In related news, the panel has referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) to the Texas attorney general's office over allegations regarding fetal tissue donation, Rewire reports.

While speaking on the House floor Thursday, Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) listed PPGC among the panel's eight criminal and regulatory referrals. Love acknowledged that three congressional committees have found no basis for allegations that Planned Parenthood or other targeted entities profited from fetal tissue. Further, investigations in 13 states as well as a Texas grand jury yielded no evidence of wrongdoing.

Abortion-rights opponents have urged House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to extend the panel's investigation into the next Congress. According to Rewire, extending the investigation would require a House vote when Congress' next session begins in January 2017 (Grimaldi, Rewire, 12/1).

Liberal lawmakers continue to urge disbandment

Meanwhile, liberal lawmakers on Thursday repeated calls for the panel to be disbanded, The Hill reports (Marco, The Hill, 12/1).

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the top liberal member on the panel, described the panel's referrals as "bogus" (USA Today, 12/1). "This panel and its investigation are a disgrace to this House of Representatives," she said, adding, "Instead of providing more funding for this divisive and dangerous inquisition, Congress should shut down this panel and put an end to its shameful proceedings" (The Hill, 12/1).