Pro-Lifers to Congress: Get Moving on Planned Parenthood Probe
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 4/26/12 11:22 AM
Last year, when a prominent chairman of a U.S. House committee announced he had sent letters to Planned Parenthood seeking information to begin an investigation into the nation’s largest abortion business, pro-life advocates applauded. Now, there is concern the probe won’t happen soon.
Last year, Representative Cliff Stearns, the head of a subcommittee in the House, launched a Congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood after abuses at the abortion centers it runs were reported and news stories surfaced showing Planned Parenthood affiliates engaging in fraudulent activities with taxpayer funds.
Stearns was also persuaded by a series of Live Action Films showing Planned Parenthood workers advising actors posing as a sex trafficker and a prostitute on how to obtain birth control and abortions for their underage trafficking victims.
“Stearns said he was appalled by what he saw and was struck by the dedication of Live Action to expose the truth about Planned Parenthood,” says Lila Rose of Live Action.
Stearns launched the congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood because “these Planned Parenthood clinics were aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of children,” he said, and they need to be investigated.
But with a looming election and the typical reluctance by legislative bodies to want to tackle particularly thorny issues in the months leading up to a national election, there is concern within pro-life quarters that the investigation hearing in the House may not take place in 2012 if it doesn’t happen soon. Rose says Stearns “is moving forward and working on gaining support from his superiors in the GOP-controlled House” and Stearns still strongly supports a full-fledged probe of the biggest abortion business.
“This is the right thing to do, and I would just hope the (GOP) leadership will have the wherewithal to let me have a hearing. It would be a healthy discussion,” said Rep. Stearns. “If you’re going to get money from the government, then you’re going to have to have accountability. The big issue is, is this money going for abortions other than the legal requirements? The rest of this is sort of making you wonder about the credibility of the organization. It makes you say, ‘Where there is smoke, there might be fire.'”
Rose says the investigation is absolutely necessary and points out that it has enormous potential to further expose Planned Parenthood — which is why the abortion giant is fighting back so hard against it.
“Planned Parenthood is fighting the congressional investigation and is doing everything in their power to protect every cent of their $1 billion in assets and $487 million in taxpayer funding that they receive from the government,” she said. “Planned Parenthood claims that this investigation is an attack on “women’s health”, but in reality, this investigation is crucial to the protection of women’s lives and all persons, born and unborn. Congressional hearings have not begun, but Rep. Stearns is moving forward and working on gaining support from his superiors in the GOP-controlled House.”
“The truth about the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood needs to be exposed, and this congressional investigation is another step in that direction. We must continue to stand firm against abortion and the abuses of the abortion industry,” Rose added.
Rose said Live Action is “working on more investigations and will be rolling out a new investigative project very soon.” Although her organization is tight-lipped about the possibilities, Planned Parenthood has already engaged in a preemptive strike against what it believes is an investigation by Live Action into the potential that it tolerates sex-selection abortions and is willing to arrange them for customers.
Looking more closely at the potential hearing on the investigation, in a September 15 letter LifeNews.com obtained, Stearns, a Florida Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote to Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.
“Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the United States House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is examining the institutional practices and policies of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates, and its hanlding of federal funding,” Stearns writes. “That Committee has questions about the policies in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion.”
The letter asks Richards to comply with current federal regulations and legal obligations by providing Congress with a wide range of documents within two weeks of the date of the letter.
“Please provide all internal audit reports conducted by PPFA and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010. If not clearly indicated in the audit reports, please detail how much PPFA and each affiliate expended and received in Title XIX Medicaid funding, Title X family planning, and any other federal funding,” the letter says.
The letter requests any information related to improper billing related to federally-funded programs, proof that federal funds are not being improperly used to pay for abortions by PPFA or its affiliates, audits by state agencies of any Planned Parenthood affiliate, and documentation of how many affiliates currently receive Title X family planning funding.
The Stearns letter also requests documents on standards and practices related to billing issues, written policies and procedures, and it requests information on how the abortion giant keeps its family planning abortion monies separate and segregated.
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Planned Parenthood has come under heavy criticism in recent years for covering up cases of statutory rape by failing to report abortions done on unborn children of teen girls who have been victimized to authorities and by aiding and assisting alleged sex traffickers in obtaining abortions and other “services” for the women and girls they victimize. As such, as the Stearns letter asks for information related to those concerns.
“Please provide a summary of how PPFA detects criminal conduct and the policies and procedures in place to prevent it or report it,” the letter reads. “Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that all Planned Parenthood clinics report all cases of suspected sexual abuse, including statutory rape, to proper authorities.”
“Please provide the policies and procedures PPFA and its affiliates have in place to ensure that suspected sex trafficking is reported to the proper authorities,” it adds.
The letter also includes four pages of legal instructions on how the abortion business should comply with the requests Stearns makes in the letter.
Stearns said earlier this year that he was planning an investigation of the abortion giant: “I believe my Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee should review the findings of this report and possibly hold a hearing on why taxpayers are funding Planned Parenthood with its record of abuse and violations of state laws,” Stearns told Politico. “The American people deserve a concrete reason for funding Planned Parenthood; a reason I do not believe exits.”
The letter follows a request from AUL, members of Congress, and other pro-life groups urging an investigation. Americans United for Life issued a report featuring a groundbreaking analysis of the nation’s largest abortion business and saying it has uncovered evidence of systemic financial irregularities within the abortion giant, which receives more than $363 million in federal and state taxpayer funding, and that Congress should investigate.
AUL staff combed through 20 years of Planned Parenthood financial data and the report documents the known and alleged abuses by Planned Parenthood, including the misuse of federal health care and family planning funds, failure to report criminal child sexual abuse, failure to comply with parental involvement laws, assisting those engaged in prostitution and/or sex trafficking, and dangerous misuse of the abortion drug RU-486.
Stearns later told Americans United for Life more about his feelings on the matter of Planned Parenthood, saying, “Taxpayers deserve accountability, and the report prepared by Americans United for Life demonstrates egregious abuses of taxpayer funds by Planned Parenthood. The legal team at Americans United for Life reviewed two decades of reports, audits, and financial statements regarding Planned Parenthood.”
“The report outlines Planned Parenthood’s record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws, and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages to circumvent state reporting laws. They also found as government funding of Planned Parenthood rises, so does the number of abortions. They found repeated instances of overbilling government health care programs,” he added.
Planned Parenthood previously responded to the report claiming the information is false.
“We are proud of the trust millions of women place in us every year to provide high quality health care. We approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility to the patients we serve, and recognize that the importance of our work is growing because in many communities we are often the only source of affordable quality health care for women,” the abortion business said. “This so-called report is a politically driven attack by an organization opposed to birth control and expanded access to birth control. It uses discredited, recycled and misleading claims to attack Planned Parenthood and should be viewed with a skeptical eye.”