Texas Senate Holds First Hearing on Planned Parenthood Video

Planned Parenthood was not present at Texas Senate hearing.

By Rhonda FanningJuly 29, 2015 12:54 pm

News crews have descended on the Texas capitol building, but the Texas legislature is not in session. This time, it’s regarding the hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on what it calls the “Business Practices of Planned Parenthood.” The hearing deals with concerns that Planned Parenthood’s alleged transfer of human fetal tissue might violate state and federal laws, a reaction to a series of videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion activist group called the Center for Medical Progress. There are at least two state investigations about how Planned Parenthood handles fetal tissue transfers. Ben Philpott, chief political reporter at KUT Austin, has been following the hearing.

On the new video reportedly shot at a Houston Planned Parenthood facility:

“What we did get was official confirmation that there is another video. These initial videos were taken out in California and the Attorney General Ken Paxton did let the senators know that he has, what he called, not a short video that was taken secretly here in Texas. The senators will be allowed to come view it if they would like, but that is not something he’s ready to make public until he is finished reviewing it for this investigation. The group could of course release it on YouTube in the next minute, who knows?”

On Planned Parenthood declining to testify at the hearing:

“[Planned Parenthood was] invited. They did release a statement … at about 8:30 this morning, half an hour before the hearing was supposed to start. In general, [the statement] says this committee has made abundantly clear that is has no desire to hold a responsible, fair, fact-driven hearing. They are saying that the committee is grandstanding essentially — political gamesmanship — and they declined to testify. Obviously, several of the Republicans on the committee today were very upset about that, [saying] you can’t say we’re not going to be fair and then not show up.”

On whether Planned Parenthood should have testified:

“At least one Democrat Senator, Carlos Uresti, tried to put it a little bit into perspective. He asked the Attorney General, ‘Is it possible that Planned Parenthood is being investigated for criminal activity?’ The Attorney General said yes. Uresti said, ‘Lawyer to lawyer: If you were the lawyer for Planned Parenthood, would you allow them to come to a public hearing?’ And [the Attorney General] said, ‘Well no, that’s not something you would usually let your client do in the middle of a criminal investigation.’”

On whether other parties involved would be investigated:

“As expansive as this investigation has gotten, it is going to be for abortion providers full stop, period. That does mean that hospitals that perform abortions could also see a visit from the Attorney General’s crew to see whether or not they are following current state laws in terms of disposing of fetal material.”

On what’s next for the investigation:
“There are probably going to be more hearings. The Attorney General today declined to give even a timeline other than: based on what they find, it could go on longer than what he expects.”