Congress Holds Tense Hearing Ahead of Possible Defunding of Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09:  Pro-life activists Gianna Jessen (L) and Melissa Ohden (R), General Counsel for National Right to Life James Bopp (2nd L) and Director and Senior Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice in Yale Law School's Information Society Project Priscilla Smith (3rd L) are sworn in during a hearing before House Judiciary Committee about Planned Parenthood September 9, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider." (PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 09: Pro-life activists Gianna Jessen (L) and Melissa Ohden (R), General Counsel for National Right to Life James Bopp (2nd L) and Director and Senior Fellow in the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice in Yale Law School’s Information Society Project Priscilla Smith (3rd L) are sworn in during a hearing before House Judiciary Committee about Planned Parenthood September 9, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on “Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” (PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Republicans grilled a pro-choice abortion expert during a tense hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday ahead of a possible government shutdown over federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Over several hours, the House Judiciary Committee questioned Priscilla Smith, the director of the Yale Law School Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, about abortion procedures and how Planned Parenthood operates.

“When they came into Planned Parenthood they were living, feeling human children, and they died while they were there. Don’t forget that these were once little babies that were killed at the hands of Planned Parenthood,” said Arizona Repulblican Rep. Trent Franks.

The hearings came in the wake of an ongoing controversy over covertly obtained videos which appeared to show Planned Parenthood staffers discussing the monetary value of fetal tissue. The organization has said the videos from the Center for Medical Progress were misleadingly edited and showed staffers discussing reimbursement costs, which are legal.

But the videos have stirred pro-life activists to call for complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, which receives federal money for women’s health services but not for providing abortions.

The other three witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing oppose abortion: James Bopp, General Counsel of the National Right to Life Committee, as well as two pro-life advocates who say they survived failed abortions as newborns.

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SOURCE: TIME, Tessa Berenson

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