The latest in a string of investigations by Georgia and other largely conservative states into allegations against Planned Parenthood — this one in Missouri — came back today with the identical result as all its predecessors: No evidence of wrongdoing, no evidence of law-breaking.
“As a result of our investigation, the Office of the Missouri Attorney General has found no evidence that [Planned Parenthood] has engaged in unlawful disposal of fetal organs and tissue…. The information and documentation we reviewed did not reveal any irregularities involving the transmission, examination or disposal of the fetal organs and tissue from surgical abortions performed at [Planned Parenthood.]”
And the news goes on. In Utah, for example, a federal judge today issued a temporary restraining order against Gov. Gary Herbert, requiring him to reinstate federal funding to Planned Parenthood in his state because he could offer no evidence that the agency had acted inappropriately and thus had no excuse to bar funding. Even more telling, several new national polls have been released documenting overwhelming public support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood.
According to a new USAToday poll, for example, 65 percent of Americans say funding of Planned Parenthood should continue; just 29 percent say it should be halted. An even larger 73 percent opposes shutting down the federal government over the issue, and Americans would blame Republicans for such a shutdown by more than a four-to-one margin over President Obama and the Democrats.
Polls by the Pew Center, CBS/New York Times, Quinnipiac and NBC/Wall Street Journal report similarly lopsided support for Planned Parenthood. That’s five consecutive major national polls all reporting the same thing, yet conservatives are so caught up in their own sanctimonious image, and so certain that the American people side with them on the issue, that only the resignation of John Boehner as speaker saved the GOP from driving over the edge of this particular cliff. They act as if it’s a conspiratorial betrayal of basic democracy that their own minority viewpoint is somehow not imposed on everybody else.
It’s just amazing.
The situation has gotten so bad for the Republicans that at a congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood today, Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah was reduced to criticizing Planned Parenthood President Celia Richards for her $500,000-plus salary, suggesting that it proved that the organization was undeserving of Medicaid subsidies.
“The question before us is: Does this organization — does Planned Parenthood really need a federal subsidy? Does it need federal dollars? Every time we spend a federal dollar, what we’re doing is pulling money out of somebody’s pocket and we’re giving it to somebody else. What I don’t like, what I don’t want to tolerate, what I don’t want to become numb to is wasting those taxpayer dollars.”
First, the payments in question aren’t subsidies at all. They are reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for medical care provided to Medicaid patients, payments made at the same rate as to other medical providers. And for comparison’s sake, here are a few more salaries paid by other organizations that also accept Medicaid reimbursements for services rendered:
- Wayne Smith, CEO of Community Health Systems, $26 million
- Trevor Fetter, CEO of Tenet Health Care, $17.9 million
- Alan Miller, CEO of Universal Health Services, $18.4 million
- Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS Healthcorp, $32.4 million.
Let me know when Chaffetz calls those men up to Capitol Hill for a grilling.
UPDATE: In addition, we now know a lot more about the few seconds of footage that had been inserted from another unknown source into a separate “documentary” about Planned Parenthood. That heartbreaking footage of a 17-week-old fetus struggling vainly for life on an operating table apparently comes from a tragically premature birth in which the fetus was simply much too unformed to survive.
That footage of someone’s personal tragedy was then pawned off as evidence of an abortion, and further misrepresented as video evidence of an intact, living fetus about to be dissected for its organs at Planned Parenthood, none of which was apparently true. Carly Fiorina, among others, has some apologies to make, although I have no expectation they will be forthcoming.
In short, anti-abortion advocates hijacked somebody’s else’s tragedy and violated their privacy in an effort to score political points, and that’s just beneath contempt.