Nearly a month after a deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, House Republicans are marching ahead with their special investigation into the family planning provider, despite calls for them to redirect their focus toward domestic terrorism at abortion clinics.
Inspired by the same series of debunked undercover videos that the Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert Dear, cited as his motive, GOP leaders in the House established a select committee with the sole purpose of investigating the abortion practices of Planned Parenthood. The videos purport to show doctors discussing the sale of fetal parts for profit -- a claim that has inspired much inflammatory rhetoric from Republican politicians -- but so far, a federal investigation and multiple state investigations into the women's heath care provider have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.
Since the Colorado shooting, which left three dead, Democrats and women's rights advocates have been calling on Republicans in Congress either to drop their investigation into Planned Parenthood or redirect its focus toward increasing threats of violence at women's health clinics. In addition to the high-profile shooting, there have been four lesser-known arsons at Planned Parenthood clinics and numerous death threats to abortion providers in recent months.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to disband the special committee in light of these incidents, suggesting that the anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric in Congress is contributing to an atmosphere of violent extremism that leaves clinics vulnerable to attacks.
“It is time to stop the demonizing and witch hunts against Planned Parenthood, its staff and patients, and the lifesaving health care it provides to millions every day,” she said.
The Feminist Majority Foundation, a women's equality nonprofit founded by Gloria Steinem in 1987, launched a campaign on Wednesday urging Congress to investigate the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group behind the inflammatory videos, and Troy Newman, a prominent anti-abortion activist and CMP board member who has argued that the murder of abortion providers is justified. Ads appearing in major media outlets like Politico and the Washington Post demand, "When did the right to life become the right to terrorize?"
“The House Select Investigative Panel must call on Newman and other CMP officials to answer questions under oath about how their activities may have contributed to anti-abortion harassment, intimidation, and terrorizing of abortion providers,” FMF President Eleanor Smeal said in a statement.
While Republicans have condemned the Planned Parenthood shooting, they have also stood by their efforts to investigate the provider. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the leader of the select committee, said in a statement that Democrats should stop "playing politics with this tragedy."