The Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held hearings Wednesday, as part of its investigation into Planned Parenthood. The initial hearings revealed some troubling information and previewed what is to come. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he has a credible video obtained inside Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the clinic that Deborah Nucatola, in the first video, said had the largest research program of any Planned Parenthood facility.
Planned Parenthood did not show up to its own hearing. Instead, it sent this five page document, which it attempted to enter as testimony in lieu of an appearance.
We believe this committee has no desire to hold a responsible, fair, fact-driven hearing. In fact this committee cares more about political gain gamesmanship them the truth. Therefore, we decline the request to testify in person.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Charles Schwertner, however, did not accept written excuses. Schwertner refused to accept the letter as testimony, despite argument from Democrat José Rodriguez, who harped on most witnesses. Schwertner, however, was not swayed, and scolded Planned Parenthood for refusing to testify: “They need to come answer what they are doing in the state of Texas, and, unfortunately, they have declined to do so.”
Senator Donna Campbell did not mince words against Planned Parenthood in opening statements:
To see that life is treated… so callously that the behavior is just despicable. And it’s disgusting how far, far we have fallen as a nation if we just let this go and don’t try to do something to fix the problem… Planned Parenthood’s behavior on these videos is morally reprehensible. Medically, as a physician, it’s unprofessional, and it’s unethical. We don’t do anything like that in our normal practice in the hospital.
Senator Charles Perry also expressed disgust with the abortion giant:
I think by Planned Parenthood not being here, it shows the contempt they have for this process and this committee. And I think the arrogance that came out of the statement by the leader of that organization (Cecile Richards), one of no contrition–it was just not the statement I expected from one who just had their organization possibly highlighted for potential criminal activity. So I think it says a lot by them not being here.
Vice-Chair Senator Lois Kolkhorst added that Planned Parenthood’s refusal to testify “incenses me, because that is an affront to us as elected officials.”
The first to testify, Attorney General Ken Paxton (You can read his powerful testimony here), described a visit his staff took to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston. He reported, “according to the people at the facility, they average at least 260 pounds of medical waste per week.” He also said he has been in the Houston Planned Parenthood, the large abortion “supercenter,” as many dubbed it. He said:
The true abomination to all of this is the institution of abortion. Even if their body parts are never sold and never used in research for the babies who are killed in abortion clinics, more than 54,000 last year in Texas and more than 57 million in the United States since 1973, their fate is in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and anonymous disposal in an incinerator somewhere… If you’re in prison we treat your body better than these aborted babies are treated.
Then Paxton dropped a bombshell:
Over the past several days, there have been reports that my office, as part of our investigation, has gained possession of hours of video recordings involving a Texas branch of Planned Parenthood. These reports are accurate. I cannot go into detail about these recordings at this time, but they appear to be consistent with other videos that have been released regarding Planned Parenthood.
The Senate committee has had access to this video, which Paxton described as “not short,” but it has not been released to anyone else. The origins of the video are also unknown, though most believe it to be from the Center for Medical Progress. This has not been confirmed.
Following Paxton’s testimony, leaders from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) presented on the protocols of clinic inspections (which can be accessed here). Pro-life leaders in the state then testified, including Kyleen Wright, President at Texans for Life Coalition, and two former abortion workers, Abby Johnson and Carol Everett. Their testimonies were indicting.
Johnson discussed the POC lab, which is what abortion workers call the babies, short for Products of Conception.
However, in Planned Parenthood the joke was it stood for pieces of children…. The freezer was jokingly called the nursery in our abortion facility.
Johnson testified that her Planned Parenthood clinic made $200 per baby. She said fetal tissue donations were “sheer profit for Planned Parenthood.” Even with a conservative estimate, she said, the large quota-based Planned Parenthood clinic that had even 50 tissue donors abortions a day could easily make $120,000 a month from tissue donation, even with a $100 profit–with no significant reimbursement costs. She also testified that in her clinic they changed the abortion procedures when they needed to get certain baby parts, such as eyeballs or neural tissue, for the orders made from the procurement agency, Amphioxus Cell Technology.
Wright began her testimony with a piece of facial tissue. She held it up and said.
This is tissue. And thanks to Planned Parenthood’s lies, deception and manipulations brutally exposed these past two weeks many women are using more of them.”
Wright chronicled the heartbreak individuals had conveyed to her in light of the scandal, and encouraged the state to make a uniform consent document, which is detailed to include all information a woman has a right to know.
We need to define tissue for what it really is, brains, lungs, kidneys, hearts, and those oh-so-in-demand livers.
Wright said by email later:
Planned Parenthood is in big trouble. [Their] support rally appeared small…. Their attorney made a dramatic appearance towards the end – disheveled and lost. So odd. Said she advised Planned Parenthood not to testify because they are under investigation.
Indeed, the attorney did interrupt the proceeding, and when Chairman Schwertner asked her if she would testify for the organization she represented, she would only say she was there to offer written testimony. The proceedings had gone on over three before she appeared.
Everett offered troubling insight into an industry that often keeps two sets of books so women requesting their records will never know their babies have been used in research. She also introduced a frightening thought: If the abortion clinics are not testing for diseases such as HIV when they take this tissue, which she declared was often extracted in unsanitary ways, then to be used in medical research could be dangerous. She added:
If you’re talking about women who are willing to kill babies, you are talking about women who are willing to compromise on many different levels.
Ultimately, Planned Parenthood’s belligerent refusal to attend its own hearing spoke volumes in the midst of troubling testimony that promises to bring more of the abortion provider’s dark practices into the light.