|A New Jersey Planned Parenthood clinic|
U.S. House Republicans on Wednesday voted to create a new House Energy and Commerce subcommittee to launch another investigation of Planned Parenthood, a move NJ.com reports that the panel’s top Democrat said “has lost any semblance of legitimacy.”
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., whose district includes New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Woodbridge and other Middlesex and Monmouth County communities, said the Republicans are “undermining the integrity” of the committee, one of the most powerful in the House.
“Using this committee to endlessly harass an organization in the hopes of damaging its reputation, simply because you are ideologically opposed to a women’s right to choose, undermines the integrity of this committee and is an abuse of Congress’ power to investigate,” Pallone said. “The Republicans are grasping at straws here, and this obviously political effort has lost any semblance of legitimacy.”
The Republicans’ action to press their probe of Planned Parenthood followed the release of several opinion polls showing support for the women’s health care organization. Efforts by some congressional Republicans to block legislation funding the government unless it eliminated money for Planned Parenthood, threatening a shutdown, failed when Congress passed a temporary spending bill that expires Dec. 11.
U.S. Rep. Martha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the committee’s vice chair, said the probe was needed because of the allegations contained in heavily edited videos released by an anti-abortion group.
Those videos alleged that Planned Parenthood sold parts from aborted fetuses for profit, though Pallone said that an ongoing Energy and Commerce probe found no evidence to support those claims.
All six New Jersey Republicans voted to establish the special subcommittee and all six Democrats voted no.
Abortion accounted for just 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s medical procedures, according to the group’s 2013-14 annual report. Screening and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases accounted for 42 percent and contraceptive services for 34 percent.
Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey received $5.2 million in federal funds last year. They offer health and contraceptive services in 14 of the state’s 21 counties according to NJ.com.