Planned Parenthood video recharges Republicans’ anti-abortion campaign
Posted on July 20, 2015 by Tribune News Service Views: 274
(TNS) — In the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing in graphic detail how to preserve aborted fetal organs for medical research, anti-abortion Republicans hope they’ve finally found an opening to advance their agenda.
So far, they have a few things working in their favor.
Lawmakers know the video will evoke a strong emotional response. In it, anti-abortion activists posing as biomedical company representatives wore cameras to show Planned Parenthood’s senior medical services director sipping wine while discussing the terms of fetal tissue shipments.
More videos are on the way, according to the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group responsible for the clip released last week. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has directed committee chairmen to investigate the matter and hold hearings, More videos would keep the issue at the forefront.
Still, the past week has shown the challenges politicians — especially Republicans — face in maintaining solid footing in abortion debates. One misstep can derail legislation or a campaign.
In 2013, House Republicans thought they hit a gold mine with Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor who sentenced to life in prison for killing three infants after their birth in late-term abortion procedures.
The GOP used the national outcry to push legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which some medical professionals argue a fetus can begin to feel pain. Then the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), said something about low rates of pregnancy resulting from rape as an explanation for why the bill didn’t include exceptions for rape victims.
Franks’ bill passed the House, but Franks’ remark led some Democrats to suggest that the GOP is out of touch.
In 2011, separate undercover videos of questionable practices at Planned Parenthood facilities fueled a House vote to defund the organization. But Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who supports access to abortions, refocused the debate when she came to the floor and revealed that she had terminated a pregnancy out of medical necessity.
Controversy over the latest Planned Parenthood video shows early signs of similar derailments.
There are questions about whether the video was edited to create the impression that the Planned Parenthood official was negotiating an illegal sale of fetal tissue.
There’s also the issue of who knew what, when.
A House Republican acknowledged he was one of at least two members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus shown the video nearly a month ago, but had no explanation for why he waited to speak out.
“I don’t know why,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).
Franks, the other member of the caucus who previewed the clip, said in an email that he waited because “the hope was to have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media.”
Planned Parenthood’s press office, however, seized on the report of the advanced brief and Murphy’s reluctance to comment, sending an email about it to the media.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, did not respond to requests for comment.
–Emma Dumain and Samar Khurshid