Washington Post Editorial Board Slams GOP's “Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt”

The Washington Post editorial board lambasted House Republicans for engaging in a “witch hunt” of Planned Parenthood, “undeterred” by the fact that the deceptively-edited videos that form the basis for their “reckless investigation” have been thoroughly debunked.

For months conservative pundits and politicians have used deceptively-edited videos from the right-wing, anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) to smear Planned Parenthood and call for the health care provider to be shut down or stripped of federal reimbursements for Medicaid. The right-wing media push has paved the way for numerous state and federal inquiries into the featured Planned Parenthood clinics, which have since cleared the organization of any wrongdoing. On January 25, a grand jury in Texas not only cleared the organization but also indicted members of CMP for “tampering with a governmental record” in an attempt to implicate the clinics in the sale of human organs.

In a February 21 editorial, the board blasted members of the Republican-led Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives for wasting “time and money” on a “witch hunt” investigation that has the “potential damage to health care and medical research.” The board noted that “twelve states that undertook investigations of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing,” and that “hidden-camera videos purporting to show illegal selling of fetal tissue show no such thing.” (emphasis added):

Twelve states that undertook investigations of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing. An additional eight states refused even to investigate, citing lack of credible evidence. A grand jury in Texas and a federal judge in California exonerated the organization after each conducted extensive reviews. Three congressional committees failed to turn up any improprieties. In short, the hidden-camera videos purporting to show illegal selling of fetal tissue show no such thing.

Despite all that, a Republican-led House panel is undeterred in conducting its own investigation, or, more accurately, witch hunt. Even more troubling than the considerable time and money that will be wasted is the potential damage to health care and medical research.

The coyly named Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has made sweeping requests (including three subpoenas) for documents and information from more than 30 agencies and organizations that provide abortions or are involved in fetal tissue research. Of particular concern is the panel's demand for the names of doctors, medical students and researchers involved in performing abortions or conducting research with fetal tissue. Democrats on the panel decried the creation of such a database, which--without rules to protect it from public disclosure--risks individual privacy and safety without legitimate reason. How is the name of a graduate student who five years ago was an intern at a lab relevant to anything?


Federal law permits medical use of fetal tissue. The handful of Planned Parenthood clinics in which patients are able to donate fetal tissue adhered to the law that allows reasonable payment for costs associated with donations, but they have stopped accepting any reimbursement because of the controversy. Congress, with approval from both sides of the aisle, legalized fetal tissue research in 1993 because of the potential for scientific advances in treating and curing illnesses.