Two women who survived botched abortions during the 1970s testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices following the release of a series of videos that exposed the group’s sale of body parts of aborted babies on the open market.
“If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were mine?” asked Gianna Jessen, according to the L.A. Times. Jessen has cerebral palsy resulting from a lack of oxygen during her mother’s attempt to abort her.
“I’m here today to share a story not only to highlight the war of abortion taking place at Planned Parenthood, but to give a voice to other survivors like me,” Melissa Ohden said, adding that her mother attempted to abort her when she weighed less than three pounds.
Doctors told Ohden’s parents she had little chance of recovering from health-related side effects, she told the committee.
The two women testified during the initial hearing by the committee on Planned Parenthood’s practice of trafficking fetal body parts. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, said, “I beg you to open your own hearts and ask yourselves, ‘What is so liberating about brutally and painfully dismembering living, helpless, little human babies?’”
“The United States of America is a unique nation that is premised on the foundation that all of us in the human family were created equal, and that each of us is endowed by our Creator with this unalienable right to live,” he said.
Noting that 18,000 late-term abortions were performed in abortion clinics throughout the country last year, Franks called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, an issue that is placing GOP House leaders, and specifically House Speaker John Boehner, in a bind as the budget battle looms and conservatives want Planned Parenthood out of that budget.
“These hearings are not really hearings, they are political theater oriented toward taking away the right for women to access abortion in this country,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told the L.A. Times. “There was no evidence of any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.”
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the committee’s ranking minority member, said the hearing was one-sided.
“There is no credible evidence that Planned Parenthood violated the law,” he said.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) described the hearing as a “show trial,” while Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), referred to it as the “Benghazi of healthcare hearings.”
Committee chairman Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), responded to those members of the committee who have asked why the investigation is not focused on Center for Medical Progress, which produced the videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s practices.
“Part of the answer is that Planned Parenthood, unlike the undercover reporters, is granted huge amounts of federal funds,” he said, “making it our business as members of Congress — charged with controlling the federal purse strings — to do what we can to ensure federal taxpayers are not contributing to the sorts of horrors reflected in the undercover videos.”