Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Congressional Hearings: The Face of the Enemy Planned Parenthood vs Republicans

What would we do without CNN?  We would not see that spectacle which Mark Twain described as a pack of jackasses, the elected representatives of the people, engaged in that favorite Congressional circus called the "hearing"

Anyone who has ever watched his kid looking at pitch after pitch and never even swinging in little league, striking out  time after time, will know what it feels like watching Cecile Richard, president of Planned Parenthood, testifying before the House Committee on Oversight. Agonizing does not begin to describe the effect.

This morning,  I caught only 40 minutes (while on the treadmill) of 5 hours of testimony, but that was enough.  

There was that Republican from South Carolina or Alabama or someplace South asking Ms. Richards if she could understand how he felt when he thought about partial birth abortions, if she could understand the depth of feeling he had about that.  And she responded, brightly, that the phrase partial birth abortion is not a medical term.  What you wanted to hear her say was:

"Congressman, I, like you, am appalled by the idea of infanticide. The difference is, you may believe life begins when a single cell, the sperm, penetrates the egg.  Destroying those two cells may strike you as infanticide.  I do not agree, but that does not mean I think less of you.  You may also believe God instructed Abraham to murder his son. I do not.  You may draw your line at where life begins at two cells, I may draw the line at  21  weeks, or even 8 weeks, but as President of Planned Parenthood, I am not the one to draw the line. That has been done by Congress and by the Courts. Planned Parenthood follows the law of the land. I respect your right to disagree."

Or the Congresswoman who asserted abortion is not a healthcare procedure. 

"Congresswoman, you may not consider abortion part of a women's health clinic, but then again, you may never have seen the results of abortions performed outside healthcare facilities, the sepsis, the death."

Or the crafty Republican from Ohio who asked her what she understands the term "Over head" means. This is all part of the Republican strategy to say that any federal taxpayer  money given Planned Parenthood, whether it's used to pay the receptionist who schedules the appointment or to the doctor who performs the abortion is all the same because it supports the organization which, whatever else it might do, also performs abortions.

"Congressman, you are talking about 'mingling' of funds, but as anyone who ever read George Bernard Shaw's 'Major Barbara' knows, there are those, not accountants but philosophers, who would argue there is no such thing as 'clean' or 'dirty' money in the world. In company which makes airplanes, there must be a janitor or a secretary who opposes war, who draws a salary which sends her children to school, which pays her mortgage, and yet that company may make airplanes which drop bombs on a village in Iraq, a village where her grandparents still live. You would use accounting tricks to separate guilt, or to indict. I would say we follow the law of the land at Planned Parenthood. We pay lawyers to be sure of that.  You are in Congress. You don't like the law, you can try to change it."

And there was the congressman wearing only a shirt, not in his Congressman's suit, who asked whether anyone from the Justice Department or from the White House had contacted anyone at Planned Parenthood since the infamous videos of selling fetal parts surfaced.  

"Congressman, we have ten thousand, seven hundred some employees. Has anyone  from Justice or the White House called?  I wouldn't know. Nobody has called me from Justice or the White House about the videos, although it seems like everyone else has.  I did sit next to a young man on the Metro yesterday, however, whose photo ID said 'Department of Justice' and he grinned at me and said, 'Illegitmus Non Carborundum,' and I went to college once, and recalled enough Latin to know that meant, "'Don't let the bastards grind you down.'  I didn't catch his name. But you might think he was talking about the videos or maybe he was talking about these hearings. Hard to be sure."

Ms. Richards almost rose to the occasion when Congressmen prodded her on how much money Planned Parenthood had contributed to Democrats vs Republican congressional candidates. She said Planned Parenthood would be happy to support any candidate who supports women's health. But she could have said:

"Congressman, Planned Parenthood would be happy to contribute to your campaign or to any Republican candidate's election if we could only find a Republican candidate for federal office who cares enough about women's health.  But your party has become a party of extreme positions and extreme candidates.  We'll support Republican candidates,  just as soon as we can detect signs of real concern for women's health, rather than the bombast we see evident today among the Republican members of this committee who persist in trying to destroy the most vital force in women's health in this country."

Several Republicans said if there were no Planned Parenthood women could easily be served by the many other health care facilities which exist in every state to serve women. 

"Congressman, you and your Republican colleagues are often quoted as saying that free enterprise and the marketplace ought to determine which enterprises survive and which perish. Well, as you have noted Planned Parenthood is just one of many options for women seeking health care, and yet we have survived, no we have flourished over the past fifty years, despite the large number of alternative clinics which you have noted exist as alternative sites for women's health care. Doesn't that say something about the value our patients, or you might call them our 'customers' place on our services?"

Oh, those are the kinds of answers we wanted to see.  Instead, we got infinite patience and courtesy. 

Where is Barney Frank when you need him? 

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