November 6, 2015 — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the six legislators she has selected to join a special House subcommittee investigating abortion providers, The Hill reports (Ferris, The Hill, 11/4).
The subcommittee is the fourth House committee to investigate Planned Parenthood following the release of a series of misleading videos targeting the organization. This specially created investigative panel is tasked with investigating an even broader target: providers of abortion care.
The subcommittee will be allowed to probe, among other topics, federal funding for health care providers who also provide abortion services and providers' practices for abortions later in pregnancy. The resolution (H Res 461) that created the subcommittee gave it the ability to investigate "medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement" and "any other relevant matters with respect to fetal tissue procurement."
According to Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the panel will have subpoena powers that it will use in consultation with the House Speaker, who also will oversee the panel's budget and schedule. The panel will be dissolved 30 days after it submits a report based on the investigation's findings. The subcommittee could recommend changes to laws and regulations based on its findings.
Then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the subcommittee's eight conservative members in October (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/26).
Pelosi has named Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) as the panel's ranking member. According to The Hill, Schakowsky is a leading voice among House members who support abortion rights.
Pelosi's five other appointees are Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.). Pelosi noted that the representatives come from committees that have jurisdiction over women's health. Each of those committees -- including the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- has initiated investigations into Planned Parenthood (The Hill, 11/4).
According to the Chicago Tribune, Speier previously spoke about her own abortion during a speech she made in 2011 amid another effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Speier said she had an abortion for medical reasons at 17 weeks' gestation in the early 1990s, adding, "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" (Wire, Chicago Tribune, 11/5).
Meanwhile, Pelosi in announcing the subcommittee members said, "I am proud to name six strong champions of women, families and facts to stand up against the latest [conservative] assault on women's health," adding, "Hard-working families deserve better than a taxpayer-funded [special committee] fixated on dismantling women's health" (Pelosi release, 11/4).