Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), who once spoke about her own abortion on the House floor, will serve on a newly formed House select committee investigating claims that Planned Parenthood profited from providing fetal tissue to researchers.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) named Speier and five other Democrats to serve on the panel. Speier told the Los Angeles Times that she asked for the assignment.
"We should demand truth. Period," she said in an interview at the Capitol. "I’m actually pleased the committee has been created because I think it’s going to once again put the spotlight on what has become a vicious campaign by some."
Speier opened up about her own experience during the 2011 debate over cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood. She gave a passionate, graphic speech about a second trimester abortion she had at 17 weeks pregnant for medical reasons in the early 1990s. "I lost a baby, but for you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous." (Watch below.)
"It wasn’t planned," Speier said on Wednesday of that speech four years ago, which drew national attention. "It was one of those horrific circumstances where a member on the other side of the aisle was lying on the House floor, and I’m really sick and tired of people that have never had the experience of being pregnant or having an abortion speak out on it when they are speaking falsely."
Three congressional committees have reviewed the policies and practices of Planned Parenthood since the Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion group, began releasing videos depicting officials, including some in California, discussing compensation the nonprofit would receive in exchange for giving fetal tissue to researchers.
Planned Parenthood contends the videos have been altered and said the payments were reimbursements allowed by federal law for the time and experience needed to extract and store the tissue. The organization has since said affiliate branches are no longer allowed to accept reimbursements for tissue donation.
The most recent investigative committee, a part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was created in October.
When then-Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) appointed GOP lawmakers to the panel on Oct. 23, he referred to the videos as "exposing the abortion-for-baby-parts business."
"At my request, three House committees have been investigating the abortion business, but we still don’t have the full truth," he said.
Speier said she wanted the committee to confirm "that in fact the videotape was doctored and did not reflect reality. I appreciate Planned Parenthood and all they do for women, and it’s time to stop demonizing them. They are a phenomenal nonprofit providing great service. It’s amazing how many women have [used its services], and so it’s time to just be proud of the fact that at one point or another for any number of reasons, Planned Parenthood was the healthcare alternative or choice that you had and utilized," she said.
The fifth-term Democrat has advocated for women’s health issues for decades, including in the California Assembly and Senate.
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