Planned Parenthood does “a lot of wonderful things,” according to the whistleblower featured in a string of undercover videos detailing the abortion provider’s practices, “but they also do things like fetal trafficking.”
The whistleblower, Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement technician for the biotech company Stem Express, said she’s not sure Planned Parenthood should shut down. “I don’t think I have any authority to outright say, ‘Oh yeah, shut down Planned Parenthood.’ Because they do do good for women as well,” O’Donnell said in an interview Wednesday evening. “But at the same time, how many other clinics, how many low-cost clinics in the USA do good for women as well?”
O’Donnell’s comments neatly summarize the congressional debate over how to respond to the Center for Medical Progress videos, which feature her accusing her former employer and Planned Parenthood of violating a legal ban on the sale of human organs and of taking the brain out of an aborted baby that had a discernible heartbeat — an apparent violation of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.
Republican lawmakers have called for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, with Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) going so far as to argue that Congress should be willing to risk a government shutdown toward that end. “It should be a very easy decision that taxpayer funds will not go to fund an ongoing criminal enterprise,” Cruz said in July.
“Funding the federal government does not require funding Planned Parenthood,” he added in a Thursday op-ed. ”But basic decency and our commitment to the right to life does require that we stop taxpayer funding of abortions and any trade in baby parts.”
A vote to divert Planned Parenthood funding to community health centers and hospitals that do not perform abortions failed when Senate Democrats filibustered the legislation, although two of their colleagues voted with Republicans. “There would be absolutely no reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) during a floor debate on the bill. “Community health centers provide more comprehensive primary and preventative health-care services — except abortion — regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood facilities do not perform in-house mammograms.”
#related#Even so, Planned Parenthood and its allies have denied any wrongdoing and portrayed Republican criticisms as an attack on women’s health. “The hard-right tail is wagging the Republican dog, wasting valuable time and putting health care for millions of women at risk,” New York senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader-in-waiting, said in July.
Schumer and others could use O’Donnell to bolster their case that Planned Parenthood does “a lot of wonderful things,” but that might require acknowledging her credibility as a source on the group. RH Reality Check, a liberal site that defends Planned Parenthood, took the opposite approach by smearing O’Donnell for her dating history before withdrawing the post and apologizing. “To target her and open her up to harassment based on her sexual preferences was wrong,” editor Jodi Jacobson wrote Friday,
O’Donnell maintained Wednesday that the abortion provider is breaking the law. “Everybody has their own opinion, I’m just speaking the truth,” she said.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.