Members of Congress condemn Stearns’ Planned Parenthood investigation
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have joined a handful of members of Congress in condemning Rep. Cliff Stearn’s recently launched investigation into Planned Parenthood’s finances and policies.
Planned Parenthood is a national chain of women’s health care clinics that is frequently under attack by anti-abortion rights groups because some of the clinics provide legal abortions.
Earlier this month, Stearns, R-Ocala, asked the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, for the organization’s financial and policy records as part of his investigation. Stearns chairs a subcommittee on oversight and investigations in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Almost immediately, members of Congress condemned Stearns’ efforts.
House Democrats pushed back with a letter of their own on Tuesday, accusing Republicans of requesting an avalanche of documents for purely political reasons.
“We question the basis for the investigation and whether Planned Parenthood is being singled out as part of a Republican vendetta against [Planned Parenthood],” wrote Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
Democrats said the Republican investigation includes “an extraordinarily broad and burdensome request for documents,” including internal auditing from Planned Parenthood and 83 affiliates over the past 12 years, state audits over the past 20 years, and “sensitive information” on how Planned Parenthood affiliates refer women to other clinics if they don’t provide abortion services.
In a recent email to supporters, Cecile Richards called the investigation “harassment and intimidation.” Richards said the investigation is “an effort to undercut Planned Parenthood and undermine Planned Parenthood health centers’ ability to provide essential care to the women, men, and teens who rely on them.”
“This is about a pattern of politically motivated attacks designed to eliminate Planned Parenthood once and for all,” she wrote in a statement to supporters.
Now other members of Congress are voicing their disapproval with the investigation. Schakowsky released a press release calling the investigation “needless and politically motivated.” She said that “instead of attacking unemployment, Republicans are waging a war against women.”
Blumenthal called the investigation an “abusive witch hunt by Republicans” that is “an unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars, and harassment of a trusted healthcare provider for millions of women and families in Connecticut and across the country,” in a recent press release.
“As a former prosecutor and state attorney general,” Blumenthal said, “I know a frivolous investigation when I see one.”
Stearns was motivated to launch an investigation after the release of a report by Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group. As The American Independent reported, Americans United called upon Congress to hold an investigation looking into Planned Parenthood’s finances and practices. While Planned Parenthood has called the report false and “ideologically driven,” Stearns did not rule out launching an investigation.
Planned Parenthood is currently circulating an open letter to Stearns asking him to stop the investigation.