Stearns Says His House Subcommittee Should Hold Hearings on Planned Parenthood

July 11, 2011 - 3:30 AM

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.)

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) (Photo courtesy Rep. Stearns' office)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants his committee to examine a report issued last week by Americans United for Life that raises questions about Planned Parenthood--and possibly hold hearings on the activities of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“Taxpayers deserve accountability, and the report prepared by Americans United for Life demonstrates egregious abuses of taxpayer funds by Planned Parenthood,” Stearns said in a statement issued last week.

AUL released the 37-page report Thursday and distributed copies to every member of Congress, including Stearns.

“The report outlines Planned Parenthood’s record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws, and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages to circumvent state reporting laws,” he said.

Stearns said the AUL legal team had reviewed “two decades of reports, audits, and financial statements regarding Planned Parenthood.”

“(AUL) also found as government funding of Planned Parenthood rises, so does the number of abortions. They found repeated instances of overbilling government health care programs,” he said.

Stearns did not commit to holding a hearing, but said one may “possibly” be needed to dig into questions and allegations raised by the report.

“I believe my Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee should review the findings of this report and possibly hold a hearing on why taxpayers are funding Planned Parenthood with its record of abuse and violations of state laws,” Stearns said. “The American people deserve a concrete reason for funding Planned Parenthood; a reason I do not believe (exists).”

Americans United for Life report

 Stearns’ office, meanwhile, would not confirm for CNSNews.com whether a hearing will actually be scheduled--or when.

Kristi Hamrick, spokeswoman for Americans United for Life, welcomed the possibility of a hearing, explaining why her group did the study.

“The American taxpayer is entangled with the abortion issue, and it’s a bipartisan issue. More than 70 percent of Americans--pro-life and pro-choice--agree that they don’t want their money subsidizing the abortion industry. This came out during the health-care debates which we watched over Obamacare,” Hamrick told CNSNews.com. “And so Americans United for Life decided to take a look at the number one abortion industry provider--Planned Parenthood. They do one-quarter of the abortions in America and receive more than $363 million dollars in taxpayer support.

“The question is: does the abortion industry deserve the generosity of the American taxpayer? What are they doing with the more than $363 million dollars that they receive?”

Hamrick said AUL welcomes congressional scrutiny of its report, which she called “a very thorough, organized analysis of the nation’s largest abortion provider.”

“Planned Parenthood says it’s this benign organization that helps women and girls, and we say, ‘Prove it.’ Let’s take a look at the record.”

Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League in Stafford, Va., called the AUL report groundbreaking and said a congressional look at Planned Parenthood is long overdue.

“There are cities and towns throughout the country that have defunded Planned Parenthood over the years, taking their local money away from them, and it’s time for Congress to take look very closely at this organization, with all of the evidence that has surfaced over the last few years, to really say, ‘Does this organization deserve to get any kind of government money?’ and our answer to that would be no.”

Lila Rose, president of Live Action, a group which has released videos of sting operations it has conducted at Planned Parenthood facilities, agreed hearings are needed.

Sedlak, who founded the organization Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP) in 1985, said the fact that Planned Parenthood has escaped congressional probes until now “hasn’t been for a lack of trying.”

“Planned Parenthood is a major political force. In addition to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, they also have their Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which is a major political lobbying force and a major supporter of candidates around the country,” Sedlak told CNSNews.com. “So there’s a lot of candidates that have been elected through the years with the help of Planned Parenthood, including Barack Obama, so there’s a lot of politicians beholden to Planned Parenthood.”

Lila Rose of Live Action, meanwhile, said one reason for the reluctance for Congress to launch a probe, “is because the blood of abortion is running deep--has run deep-on both sides of the political aisle, in the camps of Republicans and Democrats.”

Sedlak said the reason why “things are exploding right now,” is because of the last election.

“The American people elected people into the House of Representatives that are not beholden to Planned Parenthood, that are a new breed of politician – whether they are TEA Party, or whomever they are, they’ve come in knowing from back home how bad Planned Parenthood is, and (are) ready to defund them,” Sedlak said.

Planned Parenthood did not comment for this story.