By Dave Andrusko
Alas, I had way too many irons in the fire Wednesday to be able to attend the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” That’s unfortunate because there is nothing like attending in person.
However I was able to watch portions online in real time and then a little more last night when the hearing was rebroadcast on C-SPAN. I would strongly encourage you to watch the hearing.
Here are five takeaways.
#1. Talk about setting the table…The leadoff witness was Gianna Jessen. Her story is remarkable enough at any level. In 1977, saline abortion was a common second-trimester technique used to kill huge babies. The late J.C. Willke, MD, NRLC’s president for a decade, famously called them (correctly) salt-poisoning abortions.
Gianna told her story with the passion and the grit and indefatigable zest for life that those of us who have seen her many times before have come to expect. It was fascinating–no lesser word will do–to watch the faces of various people the camera captured. One man continued to methodically chew his gum. A young woman did her best not to look up, either at Gianna as she testified, or at the documents and photos that were shown on a screen.
Amazingly, after 18 hours of being burned in her mother’s womb, Gianna was delivered alive in an abortion clinic in Los Angeles on April 6, 1977. She told the committee
Thankfully, the abortionist was not at work yet. Had he been there, he would have ended my life with strangulation, suffocation, or leaving me there to die. Instead, a nurse called an ambulance, and I was rushed to a hospital. Doctors did not expect me to live. I did. I was later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which was caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain while surviving the abortion. I was never supposed to hold up my head up or walk. I do. And Cerebral Palsy, ladies and gentlemen, is a tremendous gift to me.
A moment later, in another testimony to her faith, Gianna said
Hear me clearly, I forgive my biological mother.
#2. When it came to emotional intensity, Gianna’s riveting testimony could probably never be matched, let alone topped. But NRLC General Counsel James Bopp, Jr., who came next, perfectly complemented Gianna’s testimony.
In a sense it was like déjà vu all over again. It was 27 years ago that I attended a lengthy series of meetings held by the National Institutes for Health’s Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel. Mr. Bopp and the late Rev. James Burtchaell were the two voices of reason and restraint in a panel that was enamored with the wholly imaginary curative properties attributed to human fetal tissue.
Mr. Bopp, who has testified before many congressional committees and argued multiple cases before the United States Supreme Court, was, as always, keenly on mark. One of his opening remarks captures the thrust of his testimony
One of the great tragedies of human nature is that, what history later judges to be gravely immoral, seems perfectly moral to those engaged in the action at the time. Human sacrifice, slavery, genocide, gladiatorial moral combat, and capital punishment for minor offenses are all examples of activities once thought to be moral, but are now considered gravely immoral. That is the position we are in today. Current practices employed by Planned Parenthood and various tissue procurement companies, not only violate federal law when applicable, but also many ethical and moral principles. Furthermore, continuing to allow procurement and sale of human fetal tissue makes one complicit in the act of aborting a child.
#3. It is always helpful–at least when there is an opportunity to ask questions–to hear pro-abortionists justify the unjustifiable. As such, it was a long morning into the afternoon for Priscilla Smith, who directs Yale Law School’s Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice.
For example, she was asked if the government money PPFA now receives (over $500 million) was doubled and given to any health care provider “any not named Planned Parenthood,” would she support such a redistribution that included twice as much money. Prof. Smith kept filibustering, then reluctantly said, “Frankly yes,” and then beat a hasty retreat (“Not in the current environment”).
Worse yet (although Prof. Smith would no doubt disagree) was when Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (in the words of the Washington Post) “graphically describing the dilation-and-evacuation procedure, which is often used for abortions taking place after the first trimester. It can involve dismembering the fetus and removing it from the uterus in pieces.”
In fact, what Rep. Goodlatte did was to quote from a dissent written by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy who included quotations from the testimony of abortionist LeRoy Carhart–one of the kings of late-late abortions!
Here is the relevant portion of Justice Kennedy’s dissent from which Rep. Goodlatte quoted:
Dr. Carhart agreed that “[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let’s say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, … the fetus [is] alive.” Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with “extensive parts of the fetus removed,” and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born “as a living child with one arm.” At the conclusion of a D&E abortion no intact fetus remains. In Dr. Carhart’s words, the abortionist is left with “a tray full of pieces.”
Rep. Goodlatte then asked, “Is this a humane way to die?” Again, Smith filibustered but was asked to answer the question.
I believe for a fetus–pre-viable fetus–yes, dilation and evacuation is a very humane procedure.”
After Prof. Smith, the committee heard from Melissa Ohden, who also miraculously survived a saline abortion in 1977. Melissa is well known to those grassroots pro-lifers who attend the annual NRLC convention where she frequently presents both to adults and teenagers. Her conclusion yesterday was spell-binding:
As you consider the horrors of what happens at Planned Parenthood each day, I would urge you to remember my story, and Gianna’s, too. We may not have survived abortions at Planned Parenthood, but the expectation for our lives to be ended by abortion are the very same as those who do lose their lives there. And I have long believed that if my birthmother’s abortion would have taken place at a Planned Parenthood, I would not be here today. Completing over 300,000 abortions a year provides them with the experience to make sure that “failures” like me don’t happen. As a fellow American, as a fellow human being, I deserved the same right to life, the same equal protection under the law as each and every one of you. Yet we live in a time where not only do such protections not exist, but my own tax dollars and yours go to fund an organization that has perfected the very thing that was meant to end my life.
This must end.
#4. Democrats were not happy. The level of personal insults was astonishing, even considering they came from the likes of the always volatile Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Referring to the Center for Medical Progress, which has shown eight undercover videos, many of which were with PPFA leaders, he said of CMP, “What is true is that the people who made these videos are liars in a long, long line of liars.” For bad measure, Rep. Nadler, added, “Sen. Joseph McCarthy would be proud of this committee today.”
#5. Yesterday’s hearing was only the first. Others will come at a later date. Other committees in the House or Senate are investigating various facets of the issue, such as how much money was paid to PPFA affiliates for tissue and intact baby body parts and whether (or in what manner) abortion techniques were changed in order to increase the likelihood that intact organs could be harvested.