Back in July, after a group called the Center for Medical Progress started to release a series of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials violating federal laws regarding the donation of fetal tissue for federal research, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte launched an investigation into the claims. The CMP’s claims have not been substantiated — six states have so far closed investigations into Planned Parenthood’s practices without finding any wrongdoing — but that hasn’t deterred Republicans in Congress from going full steam ahead in attacking Planned Parenthood anyway.
The House Judiciary Committee has announced the witnesses for its second hearing on Planned Parenthood (the Oversight Committee also held its own hearing interrogating Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards), and the list makes it pretty clear that Republicans have completely lost interest in the CMP’s original debunked claims and are now just going after Planned Parenthood and legal abortion in general.
The witnesses for Thursday’s hearing are progressive constitutional lawyer Caroline Frederickson, along with three outspoken anti-choice activists: Dr. Anthony Levatino, Susan Thayer and Luana Stoltenberg.
While committee Republicans invited to the last hearing two self-professed “abortion survivors,” Levatino, Thayer and Stoltenberg are all representatives of another favorite group within the anti-abortion movement – people who have experienced a “conversion” from being an abortion provider or patient to being an anti-choice activist.
Levatino is a former abortion provider who has since become an activist working with extreme anti-choice groups including Priests for Life and the Pro-Life Action League; Thayer is a former Iowa Planned Parenthood manager who has also become an anti-choice activist; and Luana Stoltenberg tells a story of getting pregnant as a teenager, becoming “very, very promiscuous” and having several abortions before converting to Christianity and becoming an anti-abortion activist.
These three activists may have interesting stories, but none is at all relevant to the question that the committee is supposedly investigating. Instead, the choice of these witnesses reveals yet again that House Republicans are using the smear on Planned Parenthood not to launch a genuine investigation, but to attack the very existence of legal abortion.