At Tuesday’s congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood, Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL), spent his five minutes grilling Cecile Richards, the group’s president, over Planned Parenthood’s law-breaking.
Instead of dealing with the law head-on, Richards snaked her way past it, attempting to avoid giving straight answers. The answers she did manage to give raised their own legal questions. Let’s discuss.
Investigating a taxpayer funded organization that has been caught on tape with at least the suggestion of scandal and law-breaking is the legally responsible thing to do – especially considering the fact that 41% of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget comes from government – i.e., taxpayer – money.
Cecile Richards is smart enough to know that being noncompliant with Congress will land her in the doghouse with the American public. In the hearing, she made a big show – some might term it grandstanding – declaring her great and amazing and awesome and wonderful cooperation. And then, she proved to be very uncooperative – and to even outright lie – when the information didn’t suit her or paint Planned Parenthood in a pleasant light.
1) Richards is only familiar with the info on Planned Parenthood that benefits her – a legal red flag.
Richards played the martyr when asked questions she preferred to evade, claiming the vast broadness of Planned Parenthood wealth makes it virtually impossible for her to know all that goes on within the abortion giant. When she was repeatedly asked how much of Planned Parenthood’s income comes from abortion she seemed unsure if the data was even possible to obtain.
Similarly, when Rep. DeSantis asked Richards, “If a child survives an abortion attempt, should it be given nourishment and medical care?” she responded with an easy, “I’ve never heard of such a circumstance happening… in my experience at Planned Parenthood, we haven’t ever had that kind of circumstance.”
First, practically everyone has heard of babies who survive abortion attempts, notably because one of them – Gianna Jessen – recently testified to Congress about how she has paperwork to prove she survived an abortion.
Secondly, what exactly is Ms. Richards’ “experience” in this regard? She’s not an abortionist. She doesn’t work at any of the clinics. How can her “experience” be trusted on this matter, especially when she claims to be so unfamiliar with the details of her various facilities?
2) Richards clearly doesn’t understand – or admit – Planned Parenthood’s legal responsibility.
Richards made double claims on the testimony of Holly O’Donnell (claiming she read all the transcripts, but couldn’t remember what O’Donnell said). O’Donnell is the StemExpress technician who shared about the living baby boy whose face was sliced open and his brain harvested at the San Jose Planned Parenthood abortion facility.
Despite Richards’ claim that “that woman does not work at Planned Parenthood…I’m not responsible for her,” she’s wrong. Because Planned Parenthood staff are the ones who handed this living baby over to Stem Express technicians—and because the baby was killed after a live birth in a Planned Parenthood clinic— Planned Parenthood is very much legally responsible — at the very least for gross criminal negligence.
3) Richards’ viability claim is a complete lie.
Richards said, very clearly, to Rep. DeSantis: “we don’t provide abortions after, um, viability.” And yet, as just one example, the Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger abortion facility in New York City publicly claims, on its website, to perform abortion up to 24 weeks.
With modern medicine, viability – when a baby can survive outside the womb – comes at 22 weeks. By 23 to 24 weeks, a baby’s survival is almost guaranteed if she is born premature and given appropriate care. From 22 to 24 weeks, some babies have survived even without extra care, as the study below indicates. Even Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey – decades-old abortion rights cases – state that viability can be achieved at 23 or 24 weeks.
A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine, from the spring of 2015, found:
[A] new study has found that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks will survive if they receive life-saving treatment.
Nearly one out of every four babies born at that early date was able to live after receiving medical treatment, according to a study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Five percent of babies born at 22 weeks survived without any outside assistance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Could Richards have told a more hard-core lie?
4) Richards’ viability claim proves her ignorance of the law.
Richards’ claim that babies aren’t ever born alive at Planned Parenthood seemed to be largely based on her lie that Planned Parenthood doesn’t abort viable babies. However, the law on giving treatment and care to born-alive infants has absolutely nothing to do with whether they are viable.
In fact, the law is incredibly simple: if a baby is born alive at absolutely any age of gestation, she is considered a legal person, and deserves medical treatment and care – not to have his face sliced open and his brain harvested. Such activities are, in fact, illegal.
5) Richards fails to understand how to answer a simple question.
Notably, when Rep. DeSantis asked Richards if Planned Parenthood alters abortion procedures to “better harvest” baby body parts, Richards answered a completely different question – pointing to Planned Parenthood’s guilt.
She said, “We have a very clear policy, which I’m happy to read to you, about how we allow patients to make fetal tissue donations.”
What? The question was whether or not abortions are altered to better harvest organs and body parts (something top Planned Parenthood doctor Deborah Nucatola – whom Richards is “proud of” – vividly described doing).
By her failure to answer, Richards answered loud and clear.
6) Richards proved Planned Parenthood’s disregard for the law by turning an important task over to medical personnel instead of legal experts.
Rep. DeSantis asked Richards if, since the release of the videos, Planned Parenthood has “issued any updated guidance” to the companies who get baby parts from Planned Parenthood “regarding the sale of fetal body parts for profit and/or the manipulation of abortion procedures?”
After answering a blunt, “no,” Richards further explained:
“We’ve…I’ve asked our chief medical officer and our medical team to review all the work we do…to ensure that if there are any things we could be doing better, we would like to do that.”
If Planned Parenthood was truly concerned about following the law, it would absolutely be asking legal experts to review its guidelines and ensure that things were being done correctly. But, of course, it was Planned Parenthood’s top attorney, Roger Evans, who stated that the bottom line with baby body part harvesting was that “it’s a good idea” —not that the law needs to be followed.
It’s comforting to see how highly Planned Parenthood regards both the truth and the law.