House Republican leadership: Reps. Steve Scalise, John Boehner, and Kevin McCarthy
Congressional Republicans plan to build a new campaign to limit women's abortion rights
around a heavily edited video that, in the final analysis, shows that Planned Parenthood follows federal law regarding fetal tissue donation. It makes sense. They like to try to avoid talking about it, since doing so can lead to "legitimate rape"-style comments, but any law that says anything involving abortion is legal is one that Republicans oppose. So a video showing a Planned Parenthood staffer talking in uncomfortably blunt terms about following the law is all the opening they really needed:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his two top deputies — McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — called for investigations almost immediately after the controversial video was made public, including whether it profits off fetal body parts. And within 24 hours, at least two powerful committees had announced probes on the issue.
McCarthy is already talking about defunding the organization through the appropriations process. And in the Senate, GOP leaders who have been eyeing a vote on legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation say this will give them momentum to clear the bill later this session.
The game plan is pretty clear: investigate Planned Parenthood to throw up a cloud of suspicion, then, even though the investigation doesn't reveal anything, use the whole episode as an excuse to pass exactly the legislation they've long wanted to pass, defunding Planned Parenthood and banning late-term abortions. Never mind that federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not go to abortion services (which are a tiny percentage of the services the organization offers) and that late-term abortions are a tiny fraction of all abortions, done mostly for medical reasons or for disadvantaged, vulnerable women who were unable to obtain care earlier.
Oh, and at least a couple House Republicans had advance warning that the video was coming, which makes you just a little suspicious that this is a coordinated effort. The whole thing is ludicrously flimsy—unless you're cynically relying on the media to run sensationalistic headlines and the public to not follow the story beyond the headlines.