Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, has launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood — and the group and its allies are not taking the move sitting down.
In a September 15 letter, the congressman requested specific documents from Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) president Cecile Richards showing that PPFA is in compliance with regulations on taxpayer funding of abortion and government concerns about sex trafficking, and clearing up certain financial oddities. The letter was obtained by LifeNews.com.
“The Committee has questions about the politics 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,” Rep. Stearns wrote.
The document request came following multiple requests for an investigation from pro-life groups including Americans United for Life, which issued a report in July demonstrating financial irregularities in Planned Parenthood’s records.
Abortion opponents cheered Stearn’s actions on Tuesday.
“This is a critical step in holding accountable an organization that has been exposed as a billion dollar business centered on abortion and an unapologetic partner of those who wish to exploit young girls,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “We strongly believe that as Congress and the American people learn more about Planned Parenthood, they will see the urgency in defunding them immediately of the hundreds of millions of tax dollars they receive every year.”
Planned Parenthood’s supporters quickly leaped to its defense.
In a letter to Stearns Tuesday, California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, said his probe is unjustified.
“We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood,” they wrote. “The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings. These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.”
Planned Parenthood maintains that its primary goal is to keep people healthy, and that the investigation is politically motivated.
“Planned Parenthood is a trusted nonprofit health care provider that provides professional, reliable and quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment to three million women and men across the country,” said Richards. “This politically motivated investigation is a continuation of the efforts of earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood, and more disturbingly, women’s access to the primary and preventive care they need.”
Planned Parenthood receives $363 million in federal and state taxpayer funding annually.