Paul Ryan Casts Doubt on Defunding Planned Parenthood

1103_Planned Parenthood Paul Ryan
Newly elected U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan greets members as he enters the House chamber after his election in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., on October 29. The new speaker has vowed to “be honest about what it is we can and cannot achieve.” Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

This article first appeared in The Daily Signal.

Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to move forward with an investigation of Planned Parenthood but also cast doubt on Congress's ability to end taxpayer funding for the nation's largest abortion provider.

In an interview with Dana Bash on CNN's "State of the Union," Ryan said he wants to ensure that Republicans are an "effective opposition party," which requires "being honest with people upfront about what it is we can and cannot achieve."

"But we also have to push issues where we can push issues. We have to speak truth to power," he said. "We have a president that isn't willing to listen, that isn't going to sign lots of our bills into law. We have a Senate that has a very difficult process when it comes to actually getting bills voted on. So knowing that we have those constraints, we have to operate within those constraints."

Ryan, a Republican of Wisconsin, called the House's newly formed select panel an "important" aspect of the investigation into Planned Parenthood, which is under fire after a series of undercover videos depicted the organization's business practices.

"I don't think Planned Parenthood should get a red cent from the taxpayer. I've always believed that, even before these disgusting videos came out," Ryan said.

The undercover videos, released by the Center for Medical Progress, depict several of Planned Parenthood's senior executives negotiating the price "per specimen" of aborted babies' body parts. The videos spurred state and congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood.

Profiting from the sale of human organs—including those of the unborn—is a violation of federal law in the United States.

Planned Parenthood has denied making a profit from illegal transactions, and the organization recently announced that it will no longer accept "reimbursement" for donations of body parts to researchers.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's chief executive, recently wrote in a letter to Ryan that she hopes, as the new House speaker, he will ensure that investigations into her organization are "fair and impartial."

"It is increasingly difficult to understand the basis for the ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood. We have fully cooperated with the committees that have contacted us," Richards wrote.

Dan Holler, communications director of Heritage Action for America, told The Daily Signal that "Congress will continue investigating Planned Parenthood, but pro-life lawmakers do not need another investigation to know that the organization is morally corrupt and undeserving of taxpayer funds."

In a statement following Ryan's election, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said, "Paul Ryan is one of the best communicators we have in the fight to defend life."

"His clarity, compassion and thoughtfulness on this issue will serve him well as he takes on the challenge of speakership," Dannenfelser said.

Dannenfelser added that both Ryan and his policy team are committed "to protecting women and unborn children from the horrors of abortion as well as defending conscience rights."

Kate Scanlon is a news reporter for the Daily Signal.