DOVER - A Portsmouth woman joined U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and other Congressional Democrats on Tuesday to demand an end to what Shaheen called the "ideological investigation" of Planned Parenthood.
"We need our elected officials to stop attacking the few reproductive health-care providers we have in our communities, and instead focus on keeping their constituents healthy and safe," said Portsmouth's Crystal Paradis.Shaheen and Paradis noted the release last summer of several hidden- camera videos made by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, which purported to show Planned Parenthood employees engaging in illegal and unethical practices including the sale of fetal body parts for profit.
Last month, a Texas grand jury investigating criminal allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from those videos instead indicted two of the anti-abortion activists who shot the footage.
"The jury in Texas affirmed what we've known for a long time - and that is Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong," Shaheen said. "It’s time to follow the facts rather than the ideology."
Joining the conference call were Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., along with Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
Shaheen noted that in addition to the grand jury in Texas, 12 states — Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, Washington, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and South Dakota — have concluded independent investigations and cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.
"It was clear from the beginning, I believe, that the so-called Center for Medical Progress set out to limit reproductive rights," Shaheen said. "That’s what this was all about. And unfortunately, too many political leaders who are anti-choice fully embraced what they have to say."
Paradis said her experience with Planned Parenthood is representative of a large number of women nationwide who use the organization for basic preventative care, such as breast-cancer screenings, STD tests and pap smears.
"We need our elected officials to stop attacking the few reproductive healthcare providers we have in our communities," she said, "and instead focus on keeping their constituents healthy and safe."
In a letter to Republican Congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the Democrats urged Republicans in Congress to disband the taxpayer-funded Select Investigative Committee on Planned Parenthood, fully reimburse U.S. taxpayers the more than $400,000 that they say Republicans have wasted to create the Committee and to put an end to partisan political attempts to appeal to extreme conservatives by undermining women’s health and rights.
According to Shaheen, there have been 20 anti-women’s health votes in the current Congressional session.Shaheen said the attack on Planned Parenthood has "backfired."
"These videos are not only dishonest, but as we have seen from the Texas grand jury, they may have been using illegal methods," she said. "It’s time now for an end to the ideological investigation of Planned Parenthood. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for politically motivated investigations."