This week, the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee will take its turn diving into the politically messy and highly controversial Planned Parenthood debate.
In a hearing this afternoon titled "Protecting Infants: Ending Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Providers Who Violate the Law," the committee will discuss bolstering two abortion-related bills — the Protecting Infants Born Alive Act of 2002 and the Protect Infants from Partial-Birth Abortions Act of 2003 — and then take testimony from three expert witnesses. Two are from the anti-abortion camp and the third is pro-choice, which if anything, represents a little more diversity of opinion from last week's Congressional Judiciary probe into Planned Parenthood.
To the horror of many, the committee did not invite Planned Parenthood to speak.
The abortion debate ebbs and flows from the center of American politics, and this summer it was relentlessly thrown into the spotlight after an anti-abortion group released controversial videos purportedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing illegal fetal tissue sales. For the past two months, hardly a day has gone by without a politician or pundit mentioning abortion and whether the federal government should defund Planned Parenthood.
The anti-abortion camp says these videos expose the dark underbelly of what Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has called "the industry of abortion," while Planned Parenthood supporters say the videos were deceptively edited to distort the truth.
Also this summer, about a dozen states, including Arizona, launched investigations into whether Planned Parenthood affiliates were harvesting and selling fetal tissue. So far, none has turned up any evidence of wrongdoing. (Planned Parenthood has said that only a handful of clinics in California and Oregon even offer women the choice to donate fetal tissue.)
As viewers of Wednesday night's GOP debate saw, the party now is split over whether the fight to defund Planned Parenthood is worth letting the federal government shut down on October 1.
By any account, the debate is vitriolic and nasty and full of exaggerated statements, and it is getting hijacked by politicians for political gain. Fact-checkers on both sides are having a field day, which is why we've rounded up the 10 most popular Planned Parenthood myths on the Internet.