When an undercover video of a Planned Parenthood executive casually discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue and organs went viral Tuesday, House Republicans took notice , with party leaders calling for investigations just one day later. Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued terse statements, the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce committees announced hearings and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., called for a Justice Department probe into whether the nation's largest abortion provider broke the law in supplying the tissue to medical research firms.
All in all, it was a furious, news-cycle dominating flurry of Capitol Hill reaction — to a video that at least two top Republicans said they first saw weeks ago. Boehner Calls Planned Parenthood Video 'Disgusting'
Rep. Tim Murphy, a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus and chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee looking into the video, said at a Wednesday news conference he'd seen the clip weeks before. Asked afterward why he and others waited until this week to take action, Murphy struggled for an answer before abruptly ending the interview with CQ Roll Call, saying he should not be quoted and remarking, "This interview didn't happen."
Here's an excerpt from CQ Roll Call's hallway chat with Murphy:
CQ Roll Call: "So, what I wondered was, what's happened in those few weeks? Why is it coming out now and not earlier?" Murphy: "Um, I don't know why. All I know is I saw it and he said he was going to post it eventually, so that's all I know."Murphy spokeswoman Gretchen Andersen told CQ Roll Call on Thursday the congressman had a responsibility to do "due diligence" before starting an investigation.
Another Pro-Life Caucus and Judiciary committee member, GOP Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, said Wednesday he had also seen the video about a month ago.
Asked why steps weren't taken immediately after he viewed the video, Franks said in an email, "The hope was to have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media."
The video, shot a year ago by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, shows an interview with a Planned Parenthood executive who discusses, between bites of salad and sips of red wine, the costs charged to researchers for organs taken from fetuses.
Officials at Planned Parenthood contend the video was edited to create the appearance of the start of a financial transaction. Planned Parenthood also said it only donates fetal organs and tissue when the mother has explicitly given consent, in accordance with the law.
The Center for Medical Progress did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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