Washington – If I was scoring Tuesday’s showdown between House Republicans and Planned Parenthood as I would a boxing match it would have ended in a draw. Both sides landed plenty of body punches but neither was able to land the knockout blow. But despite the political theatre that the hearing provided both support bases there is one thing we can take away from Capitol Hill heated debate and that is it is a losing issue for the GOP.
“Abortion is more like 90% of what PP does. video explaining how PP came up with ridiculous 3% claim” — AsleepNoMore http://t.co/etDUcFByuy
— CeJa (@CandaceJones425) September 29, 2015
While the GOP were conducting a hearing in the House and attempting to shutdown the government for funding Planned Parenthood nationally it was a losing issue. The latest NBC News poll shows public support for Planned Parenthood going up, not down, over the summer – to the point that the group is now far more popular today than both of the major political parties.
Women voters see the GOP threatening their health rights and attempting to take abortions back to the 1950’s in dealing with a Woman’s Right to Choose. While this issue will excite the Republicans base for 2016 presidential nomination primaries but in a national campaign against the Democratic candidate this is a losing issue.
— Valentine Cotton (@vmpcott) September 29, 2015
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told USA Today that he was perplexed. Two long months had passed since the Center for Medical Progress started releasing undercover videos in which current and former Planned Parenthood employees described the grim economics of fetal tissue harvesting. Since then, a long congressional recess had come and gone and Republican-run states had redoubled their efforts to defund the family planning titan. In a poll also released yesterday by Reuters/Ipsos, 54 percent of voters still favored federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Cecile Richards, the president of the embattled nonprofit women’s health-care organization, testified before a House government oversight committee about how her organization uses more than $500 million in annual federal funding.
— Volusia Republicans (@RecvcOrg) September 30, 2015
It was her first congressional hearing since an antiabortion advocacy group released videos this summer showing Planned Parenthood officials talking in cavalier terms about using fetal tissue for research. The videos implied that the officials were illegally selling the tissue for profit; Planned Parenthood officials say that the videos were heavily edited and that they did nothing wrong, as donating tissue for research is legal.
The videos reignited the religious right’s antiabortion rights base, and Republicans in Congress and those running for president subsequently demanded that Planned Parenthood lose its federal funding (which cannot be legally used for most abortions).
A group of about 30 members of Congress even threatened to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood lost its funding. That is unlikely to happen this week, but what they got instead was a high-profile congressional hearing that lasted five hours as they got a chance to air their grievances directly to Planned Parenthood’s president Ms. Richards.
But here is why the GOP is fighting a losing battle against Planned Parenthood as states look into the allegations on a local basis.
Of the 11 states investigating Planned Parenthood’s alleged mishandling of fetal remains, seven have concluded that Planned Parenthood has broken no laws. In a statement released Monday, Missouri’s Attorney General announced that there was “no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue.” The findings came after an audit of every procedure performed by the state’s only authorized abortion facility over a 30-day span.
Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Indiana, and Florida have also been unable to prove that fetal remains are sold by the health-care provider for profit, as the highly edited undercover videos from anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress purport.
There are presently ongoing investigations in Arizona, Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana that despite hundreds of hours of investigation and hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars being spent have still have yet to find a smoking gun needed by the Republican congressional leaders who want a government shutdown in order to defund the group.
So, while the GOP knows that even if they were able to craft a bill to defund Planned Parenthood it would die on President Barack Obama’s desk. Attacking Planned Parenthood might be a good short term plan; in the long run it is a losing proposition.