ThinkProgress: Three Anti-Choice Republicans Tell Boehner to Drop Planned Parenthood Rider

Jodi Jacobson

Today, as reported by our colleagues at ThinkProgress, three anti-choice Republicans have urged House Speaker John Boehner to drop the rider seeking to defund Planned Parenthood around which the stalemate on the budget and government shutdown revolve.

Today, as reported by our colleagues at ThinkProgress, three anti-choice Republicans have urged House Speaker John Boehner to drop the rider seeking to defund Planned Parenthood around which the stalemate on the budget and government shutdown revolve.

“While many Republicans are committed, writes Tanya Somanader, “to holding up the budget over a social issue, at least three anti-choice Republicans are recognizing the absurdity of such an obstacle.”

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and — surprisingly — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have signaled a willingness drop the policy rider to reach an agreement and avoid a shutdown.

As ThinkProgress reported, Toomey told  MSNBC on Thursday: “I think what we should do is cut spending as much as we can, get the policy changes that we can, but move on, because there are other, bigger battles that we are fighting.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday, Coburn said: “And my recommendation to my friends in the House is, you know, it’s highly unlikely that many riders are going to get passed with a Democrat president and a Democrat Senate, so why don’t you take the spending and let’s get on to the budget.

And speaking to John King of CNN yesterday, Bachmann said: “I think that we should have a clean bill that makes sure that the paychecks get to the troops on time.
The “clean bill ” Bachmann called for is exactly what the Democrats offered yesterday.

Could it be that all three understand that the vast majority of people in the United States need, use, and want reproductive health services, and that demolishing a program that serves anyone in need would be costly?

While their motivats are not clear, Somanader writes that “Republicans like Rep. Jeff (R-AZ) are intent on passing the misguided rider regardless if it results in a shutdown — a position that, as the Washington Monthly Steve Benen notes, reveals the GOP as a party that “isn’t just shutting down the government, it’s shutting down the government for a ridiculous reason that the American mainstream will find absurd.”

 

News Law and Policy

Planned Parenthood Smear Campaign Prompts Arizona Anti-Choice Efforts

Nicole Knight Shine

Arizona Republicans are pushing measures to outlaw fetal tissue donation and ban state employee contributions to abortion providers.

Arizona’s Republican lawmakers pushed forward a spate of anti-choice bills this week, including measures to outlaw fetal tissue donation and ban state employee contributions to abortion providers.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) states, “a person may not knowingly sell, transfer, distribute, give away, accept, use or attempt to use any human fetus or embryo or any part, organ or fluid of the human fetus or embryo resulting from an abortion.”

Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc., said she wasn’t aware of a single Arizona abortion provider that participates in fetal tissue donation.

“The motive behind this bill, from our perspective, is to simply recycle the same allegations and gruesome images from the fraudulent, doctored videos published by [the Center for Medical Progress],” Liggett said in an email to Rewire. “This is a cheap, theatrical attempt to shock the public and gain traction in the battle to end legal abortion. That’s the real aim here.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

A separate measure, advanced by Republican Senate President Andy Biggs of Gilbert, bans state employee donations via payroll deductions to abortion providers, enshrining into law a move by the state’s GOP governor eliminating Planned Parenthood from a list of state-approved charities.

Planned Parenthood officials said they raised $40,000 in five days from supporters following the governor’s decision—an amount that dwarfs the $7,000 in annual state employee contributions.

Both SB 1474 and SB 1485 are likely to gain traction in Arizona’s Republican-controlled house and senate.

Bills outlawing fetal tissue donation have sprung up in GOP-majority legislatures around the country after doctored smear videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) purported to show Planned Parenthood employees participating in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. CMP’s ringleaders now face indictments, and Republican-led investigations in 11 states have failed to find wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood.

Only 1 percent of Planned Parenthood’s nearly 700 heath-care facilities nationwide facilitate fetal tissue donation, the organization’s president Cecile Richards said in an October 2015 letter to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Cathi Herrod, president of the anti-choice policy group Center for Arizona Policy, told the Associated Press that Planned Parenthood should have “no issue” with the fetal tissue bill.

Republicans advanced a flurry of abortion rights restrictions ahead of Monday’s state senate filing deadline, but reported threats to defund Planned Parenthood failed to materialize.

Biggs, the state senate president, told reporters in December that he’d draft legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid money, but has not introduced a bill to do so.

Other bills, such as SB 1324, introduced last week, would restrict pill-induced abortions to patients who are up to seven weeks pregnant, rather than the medically accepted stage of nine weeks pregnant.

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Lawmakers Use Planned Parenthood Attack Videos to Target Fetal Tissue Research

Teddy Wilson

Institutions that use fetal tissue for scientific research have found over the past month that they are vulnerable targets of anti-choice legislation pushed in legislatures across the country.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

Institutions that use fetal tissue for scientific research have found over the past month that they are vulnerable targets of anti-choice legislation pushed in legislatures across the country.

The publication of videos featuring surreptitiously recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and biomedical companies discussing fetal tissue donation policies and practices has led to outrage from anti-choice activists and lawmakers, even as those deceptive videos have been largely discredited.

Legislators have used the videos to justify a failed attempt by congressional Republicans to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for services unrelated to abortion.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations and hearings into the organization, but to date none have uncovered evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

Before the release of the attack videos, six clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood offered pregnant people seeking abortion care the option to donate the fetal tissue for research. Now there are only two clinics that still offer that option. It is unclear if the clinics will ever resume offering patients the option to donate fetal tissue.

Fetal tissue research has led to vaccines for polio, hepatitis A, chickenpox, rubella, and rabies. That hasn’t stopped fetal tissue research opponents from questioning its importance in medical breakthroughs, and they instead advocate for continued use of stem cells.

“Fetal tissue in itself is an antiquated type of research that’s kind of on its way out,” Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told The Hill. “They don’t make polio vaccines using fetal tissue anymore. It’s obviously our hope that it’s on the way out.”

The Charlotte Lozier Institute is the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization dedicated to electing anti-choice candidates and pursuing anti-choice legislation and policies.

Manjunath Swamy, professor of biomedical sciences at Texas Tech University’s Health Sciences Center, told the Houston Chronicle that the unique regenerative abilities of fetal liver and lung tissue have been essential to his research into finding a more effective way to treat HIV.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University School of Medicine, told The Hill that fetal tissue researchers will be watching the response by lawmakers in state legislatures across the country.

“I think there are certainly people nervous about what their state legislature might do,” Caplan said. “You’re certainly not going to run around saying, ‘Let’s keep our fetal tissue programs going.’”

One of Wisconsin’s most anti-choice Republican lawmakers introduced a bill last month that would prohibit “certain sales and uses of fetal body parts derived from an unborn child aborted by an induced abortion.”

Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) said that he introduced AB 305, which is similar to another bill he introduced in 2013, in response to the CMP attack videos.

“The undercover videos are lifting back the curtain on what happens in the back room of abortion clinics across the country,” Jacque told the Madison Capital-Times. “That has raised public awareness and made a stronger case for the need for the law.”

Jacque has sponsored several pieces of anti-choice legislation since being elected in 2010, including a bill requiring women to undergo a forced ultrasound prior to an abortion and a ban on sex-selective abortion.

Jacque introduced a bill last month to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal Title IX funds for family planning services. Planned Parenthood is the only recipient of the funding in the state, and receives more than $3 million from that grant each year, reported the Wisconsin Gazette.

When Jacque introduced the bill to ban fetal tissue donation in 2013, it quietly died in committee, but the bill he introduced this year has already been the subject of a controversial committee hearing. The Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety held a hearing last month during which lawmakers questioned the benefits and ethics of using fetal tissue for research.

Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, testified during the hearing that AB 305 would shut down life-saving research and poison the climate for investment in biomedical innovation. “The word is already out on street that Wisconsin is not the place for science or biomedical research,” Golden said. “We need to turn that around.”

David Walsh, a former member of the UW Board of Regents, said that he was sure that conservative lawmakers on the committee were interested in actually listening to the testimony of those who testified against the bill.

“It is clearly an attack on the university,” Walsh told the Madison Capital-Times. “They are trying to criminalize the activities of UW researchers. It’s that simple.”

Lawmakers in other states are taking similar actions to those in Wisconsin, and bills to ban or restrict fetal tissue donation have also been introduced in Illinois and Michigan.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued a temporary executive order, approved by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, that clinics providing abortion care must report to state health officials what happens to the tissue of the aborted fetuses.

Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesman, told the Arizona Republic that the governor is seeking to make the rule permanent through legislative action.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said last week that he will seek to “eliminate and criminalize any sale or transaction of fetal tissue by an abortion clinic for any purpose whatsoever.” The so-called “LIFE” initiative included policy proposals for state lawmakers in response to the CMP videos, most of which were redundant.

“Gruesome—and potentially illegal—harvesting of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood cannot be allowed in Texas,” Abbott said in a statement. “Treating unborn children as commodities to be sold is an abomination. The barbaric practice of harvesting and selling baby body parts must end.”

The policy proposals include eliminating and criminalizing “any sale or transaction of fetal tissue by an abortion clinic for any purpose whatsoever.”

Abbott proposed making it felony under Texas law to perform a so-called partial-birth abortion and making it illegal for physicians who provide abortion care to “risk a woman’s health by altering the procedure to preserve fetal body parts.” Both are already banned by federal law.

The Texas attorney general’s office, the state Health and Human Services Commission, and the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee have launched investigations since the release of the heavily edited CMP videos. 

Texas Planned Parenthood has repeatedly said that no affiliated clinics participate in fetal tissue donation programs. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast worked with the University of Texas Medical Branch, a publicly funded hospital, on a miscarriage study that involved fetal tissue in 2010.