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Wheeler calls on governor to review Planned Parenthood

By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 04. 2015 12:18PM

Executive Councilor David Wheeler is calling on Gov. Maggie Hassan to order a review of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s activities in New Hampshire, and pull a contract from consideration Wednesday.

Wheeler, a Milford Republican who represents District 5, addressed a letter to the governor following undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials in California discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue and organs.

“Videos recently released by a watchdog group appear to show Planned Parenthood officials engaged in the grotesque, unethical and illegal trafficking of human body parts from aborted babies,” Wheeler writes. “According to the US Criminal Code, the buying or selling human body parts is a federal felony. The commercial traffic of body parts from an aborted baby is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000.”

In his letter, Wheeler noted numerous investigations have begun in response to the the “appalling videos,” with governors in at least six states ordering similar reviews in their states.

“This isn’t a matter of being pro-choice or pro-life,” Wheeler writes in the letter. “It’s about making sure that tax dollars are not being used to support criminal activity. As a result, I am officially calling on you to reconsider your decision and order an official review of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s activities in New Hampshire. I am also calling on you to pull their contract from consideration before the Executive Council until this review has been completed."

The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion rights group, released the first of its undercover videos almost two weeks ago. Planned Parenthood has said that the “heavily edited” videos falsely portrays its participation in tissue donation. Women who choose to have an abortion have the option to donate tissue for scientific research, and neither Planned Parenthood nor the donor receives financial benefit, according to Planned Parenthood.

Republicans in Congress, and Republicans running for President, have called for defunding Planned Parenthood in the wake of the videos.

The U.S. Senate on Monday voted on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, with the 53-46 vote falling short of the three-fifths majority need for passage. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, opposed it, while U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, supported it. Three senators running for president – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio – voted for it.

At their meeting Wednesday, the governor and the New Hampshire Executive Council have a $1,070,000 contract on the agenda that would provide funds to five vendors for family planning clinical services, including cancer screenings, pregnancy tests, and counseling services. The contract does not include funding for abortion services.

The vendors and their amounts: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, $385,000; Planned Parenthood NNE-Claremont, $253,900; Weeks Medical Center, $117,100; Joan Lovering Health Center, $134,200; and Concord Feminist Health Center, $179,800.

William Hinkle, communications director for Hassan, responded that Wheeler was putting forth inaccurate information.

"Councilor Wheeler's inaccurate characterizations should not distract anyone from the fact that he has never supported Planned Parenthood or any family planning efforts, voting against family planning contracts to other providers in June, and the item will remain on the agenda," Hinkle said in a statement.

"Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including cancer screenings, birth control and STD testing, and access to these services is critical to the economic security and vitality of our families. The Attorney General has reviewed letters asking for an investigation, and no allegations or evidence has been presented that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has done anything but follow New Hampshire law and help thousands of women and families access health care."

The Governor and Executive Council are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. in council chambers at the New Hampshire State House.

Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the Republican State Committee, agreed with Wheeler that there is enough to warrant a review.


“Anybody who has watched the horrific videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of human body parts knows that there is ample evidence to warrant an investigation of the organization’s potentially criminal activities,” Horn said in a statement.

“As a result, the governors of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, Georgia and Kansas have responded appropriately by calling for reviews of Planned Parenthood’s operations in their states," Horn said. "Planned Parenthood has been a major political donor to Governor Hassan’s political campaigns, and its clear that her unwillingness to call for an investigation in New Hampshire is an attempt to cover up potential wrongdoing committed by one of her biggest financial supporters. Her outrageous behavior is another indication that Governor Hassan is focused on standing up for her political cronies instead of protecting taxpayers and serving the best interests of all Granite Staters.”

Lizzy Price, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Wheeler has lobbing "disingenuous attacks" against Planned Parenthood as part of a wider GOP partisan campaign against an organization that provides health care for New Hampshire women and families. Democrats are countering the U.S. Senate vote by criticizing Ayotte's vote for the bill to try to defund Planned Parenthood.

Councilor David Wheeler's letter to Governor Hassan

Dear Governor Hassan,

I was deeply troubled by your comments on yesterday’s edition of WMUR-TV’s Close Up regarding the massive scandal involving Planned Parenthood.

Videos recently released by a watchdog group appear to show Planned Parenthood officials engaged in the grotesque, unethical and illegal trafficking of human body parts from aborted babies. According to the US Criminal Code, the buying or selling human body parts is a federal felony. The commercial traffic of body parts from an aborted baby is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000.

In response to the release of these appalling videos, numerous investigations have been opened regarding Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices. Earlier this month the United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee launched a probe into the potential illegal sale of human body parts. The governors of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Indiana, Georgia and Kansas have also ordered similar reviews in their states.

 Instead of taking this extremely troubling issue seriously, you indicated that you are willing to turn a blind eye to the charges that have been made against Planned Parenthood. You also said that you did not favor an official investigation because you are simply willing to take Planned Parenthood of Northern New England at their word when they say they did nothing wrong.

 At a time when your administration is attempting to give hundreds of thousands of public dollars to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, it is outrageous that you would discourage an investigation to ensure that taxpayers are not funding illegal activity. It shows that you are more interested in shilling for Planned Parenthood, a private company that has donated thousands to your political campaigns, instead of standing up for New Hampshire’s best interests.

This isn’t a matter of being pro-choice or pro-life. It’s about making sure that tax dollars are not being used to support criminal activity. As a result, I am officially calling on you to reconsider your decision and order an official review of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s activities in New Hampshire. I am also calling on you to pull their contract from consideration before the Executive Council until this review has been completed.

As governor, you have a responsibility to stand up for the interests of all Granite Staters instead of protecting political donors that have been accused of horrendous crimes. I ask that you consider this request immediately and act appropriately.

Sincerely,

Councilor David Wheeler


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