Congress Holds Tense Planned Parenthood Hearing

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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.

The questions split down party lines, with Democratic members of the committee reiterating Planned Parenthood’s other services while Republicans hit the organization’s abortion practices. The two sides didn’t even agree on basic terminology, with Republican members of the committee referring to “babies” while Smith used the term “fetuses.”

“You would not assert that it’s inhumane to dismember an unborn baby?” asked Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King at one point.

Smith, meantime, defended the organization.

“One in five women in this country have visited a Planned Parenthood clinic,” she said in response to a question from Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “It’s a beloved institution by most Americans, because it’s one of the most excellent providers of high quality care outside of the abortion area.”

Although no representative from Planned Parenthood was present at the hearing, the organization called the hearing “political theater at its very worst” in a statement.

“It’s clear this hearing was not about Planned Parenthood — it was a chance for anti-abortion extremists and members of Congress to promote their political agenda of banning abortion in this country,” the statement read.

Sex Ed Books Through the Ages

“Those who look at our bodily dwelling can gain a very good idea of what we are... The care of our body, then, adds to our value,” advised Barbara Wood-Allen in 1897's "Self and Series: What a Young Girl Ought to Know."
"When the organs peculiar to woman are displaced or disordered ...pangs shoot through her like winged piercing arrows or darting needlepoints" wrote mail order doctor Lydia Pinkham in 1907.
Published by the Christian Education Service, of Nashville, Tennessee, during the 60s, it was written by one of the founders of SIECUS
"When the natural God-designed and God-honored sex instinct is perverted and base desire supplants love, in the choice of a companion, the home instinct is degraded, love dethroned and inharmony prevails," wrote Thomas Washington Shannon in 1913.
"It is probably best, that the life-like illustrations, some of them photographic, in books of human anatomy be kept away from boys of early adolescent age" counseled Maurice Alpheus Bigelow in 1916.
"... the woman so under the influence of liquor is, for the time being, little more than a "cave woman," or barbarian, with all the lax sex morality of the latter," wrote R.B. Armitage in 1917
This 1928 volume was directed to the "young man whose aim is to be sturdy, strong and successful."
"Dr. Norman Carr," the pamphlet informed readers in 1934, "is probably the most widely read author on this subject in the entire world."
First issued in 1949, this booklet warned: "Don’t forget that any woman who lets you use her, or who consents easily, is not safe."
From 1941, "An intellectual and frank discussion of subjects of Social Hygiene, Physiology, the Science of Sex, Moral Living, Character Building, Motherhood and PreNatal Care."
This 1941 manual includes a diagram entitled "Facts you Should Know for Defloration on Bridal Night."
This 1943 book kept in simple with little line drawings accompanying text like: "Here is the way you looked when you were ready to be born..."
The author of this 1944 guide, Belle Mooney, was touted as "a well-known physician pioneer and lecturer on hygienic and sociological subjects."
"Sooner or later your children are going to learn about sex. They ought to. They must," wrote Fathers Rumble and Carty in this 1950 textbook for Catholics.
Written in 1950 by pioneering sexologist David Cauldwell, who's credited with inventing the term transexual.
In cheerful 1950 parlance it reads: "Lucky boys and girls whose parents, teachers and leaders provide this book for them! It would be a good idea for the old folks to read it too."
"The smart writer... who says flatfootedly or insinuates cleverly that sex experience before marriage is necessary for happiness in marriage is a plain liar and an elaborate traitor to young people," cautioned Daniel Lord in 1951.
"Here is a complete analysis of young people's sexual problems and mores—from kindergarten to college —a comprehensive case-history study of the new rebellion," promised this 1962 paperback.
"Before boys are ready to get married and start a family, they must at least be able to earn a living," claimed this otherwise very hip Lutheran church publication in 1967.
"At the most basic level, a concern with sex education must stem from the recognition that human socio-sexual development is a learning process," said this scholarly 1974 journal.
This 1974 pamphlet was part of a collection of self help books from Ms. Landers including: “Teen-age Sex. And 10 Ways to Cool It!” and “Love or Sex. And How to Tell the Difference.”
From 1983: "Ugly women have boyfriends, mean women have boyfriends, hopelessly insecure women have boyfriends, stupid women have boyfriends, women covered with hideous warts have boyfriends."
This 1993 book claims that "classroom sex education is always wrong and always harmful; that it destroys modesty; awakens the passions; promotes sexual activity and fosters acceptance of sexual sins."
"Sex is many different things, and people have many different feelings and opinions about it," says this 1994 classic, in admirable understatement. Read more: Why Schools Can't Teach Sex Ed

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