Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards answered questions before a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on September 29, as congressional efforts to end taxpayer funding of the nation’s largest abortion provider continue.
Planned Parenthood has come under increased scrutiny since the release of a video made by the Center for Medical Progress, a nonprofit organization, that captured Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, disclosing that her organization regularly sells body parts of babies who have been aborted. The awareness raised by that video created increased support in Congress to cut off federal funding for the abortion giant.
U.S. News reported on September 29 that the hearing marked the first time Richards has appeared before Congress since the release of the highly publicized videos. That report noted that many of the questions posed to Richards by Republican committee members sought to determine whether Planned Parenthood profits from abortions. Richards stated that abortions make up 3 percent of the organization’s services, and said she would provide committee members with information about profits from abortions later on, because she didn’t have the information readily available.
“No federal funds pay for abortion services at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else, except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law,” U.S. News reported, quoting from the opening statement of Richards. “These are when the woman has been raped, has been the victim of incest or when her life is endangered,” she said.
A September 29 report from LifeNews.com stated that a new forensic analysis of 10 videos released by the Center for Medical Progress found “no evidence of manipulation” — thereby refuting claims made by Planned Parenthood and its Democrat supporters that the videos had been heavily edited.
Despite the authenticity of the videos being independently verified, Richards still insisted during her testimony that the footage of Planned Parenthood employees engaged in discussing the sale of aborted babies’ body parts was “doctored.”
Another report from LifeNews detailed how Richards has reversed herself on previous claims that Planned Parenthood performs mammograms. Back in 2011, following a 240-185 House vote to defund the organization, Richards said: “If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning — you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer [screenings].”
Yet during the committee hearing today, Richards repeatedly admitted that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, and in fact has no mammogram machines at any of its abortion clinics or other locations, but must refer women elsewhere for that service. She also denied ever saying that mammograms are done at Planned Parenthood, though she obviously did say so back in 2011.
“We do not have mammogram machines at our health centers and we’ve never stated that we did,” Richards claimed.
Further along during the hearing, Richards said: “To the best of my knowledge not any Planned Parenthood facilities have mammogram machines,” and a bit later repeated: “No Planned Parenthood clinics have mammogram machines.”
LifeNews also quoted a statement from former Planned Parenthood Director (and now a pro-life advocate) Abby Johnson, who said: “Having worked at a Planned Parenthood, I knew that there are no Planned Parenthoods licensed to have mammogram machines. They can provide a referral for a mammogram, but any health provider can refer a woman for a mammogram.”
U.S. News also reported that in his opening statement, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, noted that Richards was paid $590,928 in 2013, and concluded quite reasonably: “This is an organization that doesn't need a federal subsidy.”
The U.S. News report noted that during the hearing, several representatives said that Planned Parenthood doesn’t need family planning money because of its reported revenue of $1.3 billion a year, because it profits from its services, and also because it has a $100-million endowment.
“Could you function without these federal dollars?” Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) asked Cecile Richards, adding, “You make a ton of dough. It could go to these other health care clinics.”
Photo of Cecile Richards: AP Images