Following a series of disturbing videos documenting Planned Parenthood officials attempting to sell the body parts of aborted babies, the United States Senate held a vote to end federal funding the organization. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the United States Senate, co-sponsored the bill and spoke out about it.
“The truth about Planned Parenthood is finally coming out, and Congress should respond swiftly and decisively,” Hatch said. “Not only should we immediately move to stop taxpayer funding of this organization, but we should also exercise our oversight authority to investigate how Planned Parenthood is using the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars it annually receives. Federal lawmakes it illegal ‘for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any fetal tissue for valuable consideration.’ If our investigation turns up any evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing, such evidence should be turned over to the proper authorities.”
The bill’s supporters emphasized that the legislation maintains critical support for women’s health services by reallocating funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers. “Health care providers all over this country, including community health centers, offer all sorts of services for women. These include cancer screenings, vaccinations, breast exams, and HIV testing. Under this bill, federal funding for such services will not be reduced, but rather re-directed to providers who are not involved in the sordid and contemptible baby body parts business,” Hatch noted.
While an insufficient number of senators moved to end debate on whether to proceed to the bill, Hatch said that the current legislation is “just the beginning” of his efforts to hold Planned Parenthood accountable. Separately, Hatch wrote to Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, demanding an investigation of whether Planned Parenthood is complying with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and requirements that accompany federal grants. Should Planned Parenthood be found to be non-compliant, they will be ineligible to receive further federal funding.
The Full Speech, As It Appears In The Congressional Record, Is Below:
Mr. President, Congress provides billions of dollars in taxpayer money for many different programs in various areas, including women’s health. Sometimes, however, we have to draw the line, rearrange our priorities, and put some things off-limits. This is one of those times. The taxpayers should not be funding an organization engaged not only in the abortion business but, as we now know, in the baby body parts business.
In the last fiscal year, Planned Parenthood received more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer money in the form of government grants, contracts, and Medicaid reimbursements. That’s nearly $1.5 million per day, every day, and more than 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s revenue. The group’s annual reports reveal what it does. In the last three years, it performed nearly one million abortions. In fact, this taxpayer-supported organization is the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Some of Planned Parenthood’s propaganda suggests the group focuses more on promoting pregnancies than ending them. But the numbers reveal the truth. Abortion accounts for 94 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services. The number of Planned Parenthood abortions dwarfs its recipients of prenatal care by more than 15 to 1. Planned Parenthood performs 174 abortions for every one adoption referral. In fact, Planned Parenthood’s abortion business is growing while its adoption referrals and prenatal care services are shrinking.
We’re also told that Planned Parenthood provides other women’s health services. Those same annual reports, however, show that cancer prevention services are down 17 percent over the year before. Planned Parenthood does not provide what the American Cancer Society calls a “very effective and valuable tool” for breast cancer screening: mammograms. That procedure requires an FDA certification and no Planned Parenthood clinic in America has such a certification.
It’s no wonder that Planned Parenthood has fought anything that could conceivably reduce the number of abortions. That’s the business they are in. They oppose measures to inform women about abortion dangers or alternatives, they oppose any kind of involvement by parents when children seek an abortion. They even oppose restricting the horrible practice of partial-birth abortion.
We’ve learned recently what such a commitment to abortion produces. Not one, not two, not three, but four videos released so far show Planned Parenthood’s own leaders discussing the harvesting and selling of baby parts as casually as a mechanic sells car parts. They discuss how Planned Parenthood abortionists arrange their procedures and techniques to obtain the intact baby body parts that they need. These videos are revolting, Mr. President. They reveal an attitude toward human life that I thought we left behind long ago, when we decided human beings were not commodities to be traded.
Planned Parenthood has responded to these videos with propaganda and distraction. After the first video was released, for example, they said that it had been heavily edited, and their comments were taken out of context. That’s often the first response by someone exposed by their own words. I urge my colleagues and fellow citizens not to be distracted. The Center for Medical Progress, which released the video, has made the full video and complete transcript available.
Planned Parenthood also claims that it receives cost reimbursement for the “services” it provides. I remind my colleagues of two things. First, even if that were true, these are costs associated with the harvesting of baby body parts. We must never forget what is at the heart of this whole thing—the harvesting and selling of pre-born body parts. Second, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services says in one of the videos that if they can “do better than break even,” they are “happy to do it.” It appears that Planned Parenthood’s only guideline is that “this is not something that you should be making an exorbitant amount of money on.”
In the fourth video, a Planned Parenthood medical director talks about how “a little bit of training” will make sure that fetal organs can be removed intact. She says that charging a fee for each body part “works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.” And to top it all off, this medical director talks about how calling this gruesome business “research” helps to avoid getting caught.
The truth about Planned Parenthood is finally coming out, and Congress should respond in two ways. First, we should exercise our oversight authority to investigate how Planned Parenthood is using the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars it annually receives. Federal law, for example, makes it illegal “for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any fetal tissue for valuable consideration.” If our investigation turns up any evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing, such evidence should be turned over to the proper authorities.
Second, we should stop giving Planned Parenthood taxpayer money. Even if the investigations show that Planned Parenthood has broken no laws, regulations, or other rules, we should get American taxpayers out of the business of harvesting and selling baby body parts. Senator Ernst’s bill would do just that.
The abortion lobby’s misdirection, distraction, and spin are already in high gear. Last week here on the Senate floor, one of my Democratic colleagues said that this bill is an “attack on women’s health.” It is no such thing. Planned Parenthood is not the only provider of prenatal services or cancer screenings. It is, however, the only organization financed by American taxpayers that traffics in baby body parts.
Just as everyone should judge Planned Parenthood’s words for themselves, everyone should also read this bill for themselves. It says that while Planned Parenthood will no longer receive taxpayer money, overall funding for women’s health will not decrease. This bill supports women’s health but defunds Planned Parenthood.
Mr. President, this bill does not prohibit Planned Parenthood from performing abortions, it does not even prohibit Planned Parenthood from continuing its practice of harvesting and selling baby body parts. But if Planned Parenthood wants to be in this gruesome business, it should do so without being subsidized by American taxpayers.
I reiterate, Mr. President, that this bill does not reduce services for women’s health by a single dime. Healthcare providers all over this country, including community health centers, offer all sorts of services for women. These include the very services that my Democratic colleague mentioned here last week, such as cancer screenings, vaccinations, breast exams, and HIV testing. Under this bill, federal funding for such services will not be reduced, but rather re-directed to providers who are not involved in the sordid and contemptible baby body parts business.
Mr. President, the recent revelations about Planned Parenthood have pulled back the curtain on something very ugly in our culture. Millions of abortions over multiple decades have devalued human life to the point where—at least to some—preborn babies are little more than commodities, collections of parts that can be harvested and sold. Is that the kind of country we want? No, Mr. President. It is not. We should use this opportunity to examine our values to chart a better course.