Though not much was said about Planned Parenthood at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate -- apart from a spirited, unbidden defense from Hillary Clinton -- the women’s health provider is still defending itself amid ongoing congressional investigations.
On Wednesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said the committee had obtained “all unedited video footage” from the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that spent years recording employees at abortion providers, particularly Planned Parenthood, discussing the donation of fetal tissue for medical research.
The footage was a point of contention during the committee’s hearing on Sept. 29. Ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings repeatedly asked for the creator of the videos, David Daleiden, to be called for questioning, but Rep. Chaffetz insisted that the committee first needed to obtain all of the footage. Some of the footage had been barred from release by a federal judge in California, who subsequently cleared the way for the congressional committee to access it under subpoena.
“With nearly 800GB of data to review, it will take significant time to evaluate all of the footage,” Chaffetz said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and security of all individuals recorded, the footage will not be released to the public at this time.”
But Planned Parenthood questioned whether the committee in fact had the full footage. “It’s highly unlikely that this is full, unedited source footage,” Eric Ferrero, vice president for communication at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said. “For months, David Daleiden has claimed that unedited video was posted publicly, when in fact every video he has posted has been heavily and deceptively edited.”
Ferrero pointed out that Daleiden has previously said “he has multiple terabytes” of footage. “Where’s the rest?” Ferrero asked.
Daleiden and his allies claim the videos show Planned Parenthood breaking federal regulations governing fetal tissue donation after abortion. When Planned Parenthood announced this week that it would no longer accept what it calls reimbursement for costs, which are allowed under the law, the Center for Medical Progress responded that the group’s “latest PR stunt of so-called ‘policy’ change is an admission of guilt.”
In an August letter to Congress, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said that less than 1% of affiliates participate in the fetal tissue donation program, and that California affiliates have received reimbursement for about $45-60 per tissue specimen.
On Oct. 8, Chaffetz testified before a Judiciary Committee hearing, saying, "Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn't find any.”