One of the first actions of the 115th Congress was the release of a report by a Select Investigative Panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The subject of the report wasn’t, as the committee’s name might suggest, about fracking or trade but something much more important: the sanctity and dignity of human life.
Specifically, it was about revelations of likely wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, in particular, but not only, the sale of fetal body parts.
As you probably know by now, these practices came to light as the result of undercover videos made by the Center for Medical Progress. In the videos, Planned Parenthood employees and officials discussed the prices parts of aborted fetuses could fetch, often in a matter-of-fact-bordering-on-the-cavalier fashion.
As a result of the revelations, the Panel, chaired by Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, held hearings and put the nation’s largest abortion provider under a long-overdue microscope. What they found wasn’t pretty, to say the least.
The least troubling was a pattern of over-billing Medicaid and other healthcare funding programs to the tune of $132 million dollars.
More serious and far more troubling is Planned Parenthood’s disregard for the National Organ Transplant Act. The Act provides that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”
Any fair-minded viewing of the Center’s videos would lead one to the conclusion that there is enough evidence to support a case that Planned Parenthood broke that law, what lawyers call “prima facie” evidence. Certainly there was enough evidence to warrant future investigation, which did not happen under the Obama administration. Instead, it was the people who brought the possible violations of the law to the public’s attention who were prosecuted. Perhaps “persecuted” would be the better word, given the absurdity of the charges, all of which were dropped or dismissed.
For these and many other reasons, including the impact of selling fetal tissue on the obtaining of patient consent, the Select Investigative Panel recommended that Congress strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
In addition, it recommended that Congress take action to ensure that all donations of fetal tissue are made with informed consent, and that it clarify abortion law to ensure “abortion businesses do not harm women in order to procure fetal tissue.”
It also called on Congress to pass legislation outlawing abortion after twenty weeks, and to establish “criminal penalties to enforce the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.”
How likely is Congress to act on these recommendations? I don’t know, and I’m somewhat troubled by Speaker Ryan’s statement that defunding Planned Parenthood will be part of a larger attempt to repeal Obamacare. I’m thankful for his public statement, but the defense of human life and dignity should never be held hostage to another political fight.
Still, the Panel’s reports and the recommendations are an encouraging sign of how the political argument about abortion may have begun to shift in keeping with the broader cultural shift towards life. A decade ago, abortion on demand was considered legally and politically unassailable. Today, it’s hard to miss the note of panic among the defenders of the abortion regime. Praise God for that.
And that’s why I’m asking you to join us with thousands of other Christians this month by getting and using our “21 Days of Prayer for Life” prayer guide. The guide will not only help you pray for life, but it’ll equip you to make a powerful case for life. It’s a free .pdf download at BreakPoint.org, or an app for your iPhone or smart phone.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: January 10, 2017