The Center for Medical Progress's shocking video investigation into Planned Parenthood has exposed the latter's disturbing pro-abortion agenda and has demanded action from Congress. The House Judiciary Committee is trying to come up with some answers, launching its own probe into the controversial organization and holding its first hearing on Planned Parenthood Wednesday morning: “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider." While the list of grievances against Planned Parenthood may seem endless, specifically at today's hearing the panelists focused on late-term abortion, the harvesting of fetal organs and a history of the nation's abortion laws.
Emotions at today's hearing were especially high, because two of the witnesses who took the stand were actual survivors of failed abortions.
A full room, both of pro-life activists and pro-Planned Parenthood supporters wearing those infamous pink shirts, listened as legislators first explained why they wish to defund or defend the organization.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) gave an especially emotional summary of the graphic videos so far released from the CMP.
“I find it so crushingly sad the only time this baby was held by anyone, was by those who cuts its face open,” he said.
Through tears, Franks asked what is so liberating about torturously killing unborn babies? And called abortion “the worst human rights atrocity in the history of the United States.”
Rep. John Conyers disagreed, defending Planned Parenthood as a 100-year old organization that is an essential health resource for women. He suggested the CMP had doctored the videos they recorded and slammed today’s hearing as ‘one-sided.’
“There is no evidence that Planned Parenthood violated the law,” he said. “Surely we in Congress have better things to do than undermine Planned Parenthood.”
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) agreed with his colleague, saying the CMP investigation was nothing more than ‘show business’ and remarked that Planned Parenthood is ‘in his DNA’ and should be duly funded.
Then, four witnesses, including two actual abortion survivors, shared their powerful testimonies, which appeared to be effective in silencing such remarks.
Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen paired her testimony with a shocking photo of her body as a baby born alive after a failed abortion.
“I was never supposed to hold up my head or walk, but I do,” she declared. "I forgive my biological mother."
She continued to challenge Planned Parenthood for its inhumanity.
“Planned Parenthood is not ashamed of what they have done or what they do,” she said. “How many lives have been lost while we make sure we are lauded among men?”
“How many baby parts have been sold for our ego, or our promiscuity,” she continued. “How many Lamborghinis were purchased with the blood of innocent children?”
The final witness, Melissa Ohden, stated she “should have just been another statistic.” Yet, she appeared before Congress today as a wife, a mother – and abortion survivor.
Ohden provided medical records of her mother’s unsuccessful saline-infused abortion. She weighed less than three pounds when she survived, she explained.
The committee, having heard the witnesses’ testimonies, proceeded to ask them questions about the Planned Parenthood investigation. A few testy exchanges occurred, including when Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) called Right to Life General Counsel James Bopp, Jr. "remarkably ignorant" for not being aware of the string of misleading anti-abortion efforts in the past. Rep. Cohen also offended Mr. Bopp, calling him "old" and saying he must not have "remembered" when he accidentally answered a question addressed to another witness. After sufficiently embarrassing him, both Nadler and Cohen made their exits.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) also said Mr. Bopp's testimony was "worthless" because he had not seen the unedited versions of the CMP videos. When asked if Johnson himself had seen the videos, edited or unedited, he admitted, "No, I have not."
Another heated exchange arose between Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) asked Ms. Priscilla J. Smith, Director and Senior Fellow, Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, Information Society Project, Yale Law School, if a partial-birth abortion was a 'humane' way to end a life. She answered "yes," for a pre-viable fetus it is. Later in the hearing, Smith also defended Planned Parenthood as a "beloved" institution.
No matter how the committee proceeds with its investigation, one of Jessen’s final questions for the committee will likely stay with them long after today’s hearing:
“38 years later, if abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?”
Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated the hearing took place in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee when in fact it took place in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Apologies for the error.