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Source: Congressional Quarterly / Getty

On Tuesday the head of Planned Parenthood defended the women’s health organization in front of a Republican-run Congress bent on slashing its federal funding, telling lawmakers that accusations against her group fed by stealthily recorded videos are “offensive and categorically untrue.”  During the Planned Parenthood’s first appearance before Congress since those videos emerged this summer, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee argued that the group needs no taxpayer financing.

They cited Planned Parenthood tax documents showing it spends millions on political activities, travel and exorbitant salaries.  Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards told the lawmakers that her group is the victims of a “smear campaign” based on videos in which its officials coolly describe how they sometimes harvest tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research.

Conservatives as well as many Republicans say the videos, made by abortion foes posing as private purchasers of fetal organs, depict Planned Parenthood as haven broken federal laws including a ban on for-profit fetal tissue sales. The organization claims it acted legally and the videos were deceitfully edited.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to announced his resignation last week partly due to the unrest caused by Conservatives’ demanding that Congress cut its federal payments for which Republicans lack the votes to succeed.  Planned Parenthood receives an estimated third of its $1.3 billion yearly budget from federal payments, mostly reimbursements for treating low-income Medicaid patients.

According to the law, nearly no federal funds can be used for abortion. The group also provides contraception, sexual disease testing and cancer screenings as well as abortions to 2.7 million patients annually in clinics from coast to coast.

Even though Congress is on track to approve legislation this week to prevent a federal shutdown and continue federal payments to Planned Parenthood, House committees began working Tuesday on separate legislation to cut most of the organization’s federal money and immunize it against Senate filibuster by Democrats. That means that measure has a strong chance of reaching President Barack Obama‘s desk, where it would face certain veto.

According to Richards just 1 percent of its clinics retrieve fetal tissue when abortion patients request it.  During the hearing Republicans repeatedly asked Richards how much money Planned Parenthood makes from the more than 300,000 abortions it performs annually.

Richards said she did not have a figure but said she’s submitted forms from each of the group’s 59 local affiliates detailing their income.


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