Health

How The Nationwide Crusade Against Planned Parenthood Is Failing, In One Map

CREDIT: AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, addresses an Organizing for Action summit in Washington

After a months-long investigation, a Texas grand jury decided not to indict Planned Parenthood on Monday — providing more confirmation that there’s no solid evidence to support the accusations against the national women’s health organization.

This trend goes far beyond Texas. Across the country, GOP-led investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities haven’t turned up any proof that the organization is breaking the law.

Planned Parenthood has been under fire thanks to a series of undercover videos secretly filmed by anti-abortion activists affiliated with a sting group called the Center for Medical Progress. After those videos were released, right-wing lawmakers rushed to accuse Planned Parenthood of illegally trafficking in aborted baby parts, and GOP officials launched investigations into the group at both the state and federal levels. This fall, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was required to testify before Congress to defend her organization’s activities.

Despite the increased scrutiny on Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program, however, Republican officials are coming up empty.

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CREDIT: ThinkProgress/Dylan Petrohilos

In addition to the grand jury in Texas, officials in 11 other states — Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and South Dakota — have also concluded their investigations into Planned Parenthood by clearing the organization of any wrongdoing. Many of these investigations have been quite extensive and time consuming. In Missouri, for example, the state attorney general confirmed there’s no evidence of misconduct at the state’s only Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis after reviewing more than 3,500 pages of documents and conducting multiple interviews with the clinic’s employees.

Eight additional states, meanwhile, have determined they don’t have enough evidence against Planned Parenthood to justify conducting an investigation in the first place. Although politicians there pushed for a probe, officials ultimately concluded that it would be a waste of time.

Fetal tissue donation, which helps scientists develop treatments for degenerative diseases, has been legal for decades, and Planned Parenthood has long maintained that its employees have done nothing wrong. The group says the anti-abortion activists behind the video campaign — who allegedly used fake government IDs to pose as employees at a fake company — are the ones who may have actually broken the law. The grand jury in Texas agreed, opting to indict two Center for Medical Progress employees rather than Planned Parenthood itself.

“As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable,” Eric Ferrero, the vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, said in a statement this week.

The mounting evidence hasn’t been persuasive to leading Republicans. GOP presidential candidates have brushed aside the recent grand jury decision and doubled down against Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, Congress still has five separate committees dedicated to investigating Planned Parenthood — including a special panel that has drawn direct comparisons to the panel that spent millions of taxpayer dollars investigating Benghazi — despite repeated protestations from Democrats who say national lawmakers should focus their attention elsewhere.

“The House of Representatives continues to waste taxpayer dollars on a special committee to investigation Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that state after state has found no wrongdoing, and that a grand jury has indicted not Planned Parenthood, but employees of the Center for Medical Progress,” Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (D-NY) said in a statement released on Monday. “It is time to end this witch hunt.”