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Boxer urges end to Planned Parenthood panel

In the wake of the mass shooting that claimed three lives Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the new committee targeting the health organization.

Former Speaker John Boehner created the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” in October to probe Planned Parenthood. Boxer, D-Calif., calls it a “witch hunt” against an organization that provides vital healthcare services but hasn’t broken the law.

Some Democrats have faulted the hot rhetoric slung by Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates against Planned Parenthood in recent months for inciting the kind of violence that occurred Friday in Colorado.

“We should not and cannot continue this politically-motivated committee targeting Planned Parenthood, which is already costing taxpayers and helping to create a dangerous climate for legal health care in America,” Boxer wrote Monday to Ryan, R-Wisc. “Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers.”

“It is time to stop the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, stop the demonizing rhetoric and disband this committee immediately,” she wrote.

Read the full text of Boxer’s letter, after the jump…
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Speier named to committee on Planned Parenhood

Rep. Jackie Speier is one of six Democrats who’ll serve on the 13-member select committee that Republican House leaders have convened to investigate Planned Parenthood.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, picked Speier, D-San Mateo, and the other five Democrats for what she calls the “Select Committee to Attack Women’s Health.”

Speier, an outspoken defender of abortion rights, made headlines in 2011 when she disclosed her own decision to have an abortion during a House floor debate on a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood. On Wednesday, she issued a statement calling this new committee “part of an obsessive vendetta that Republicans have.”

Jackie Speier“On their first day in power as a majority in 2011, Republicans introduced H.R. 1, a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. They have introduced bills attacking women’s health with a vengeance ever since, and earlier this year they threatened to shut down the government unless we de-fund Planned Parenthood,” she said.

“Now they’ve set up a Select Committee with no apparent purpose but to spend millions of taxpayer dollars demonizing Planned Parenthood. We have to make sure the public gets the truth: That 2.7 million women and men a year use Planned Parenthood for health services like cancer screenings, pap smears, and STD tests, and those services save lives,” she continued. “Rest assured I will fight to make sure the needs of millions of people who use Planned Parenthood and are often ignored in this ideological debate — people whose lives will be deeply affected by the outcome — will be heard.”

Pelosi named Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., on Wednesday to be the select committee’s ranking member, and in addition to Speier, named Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.; and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., as members.

Former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ordered the committee’s creation last month in the wake of a series of videos, filmed secretly and heavily edited by an anti-abortion group, in which Planned Parenthood officials discuss prices for procuring fetal tissue for research. It will be chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

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Dianne Feinstein decries Planned Parenthood arson

The flames of an arson attack at a Planned Parenthood health center in Thousand Oaks were fanned by recent rhetorical attacks on the women’s health organization by anti-abortion-rights politicians and activists, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

“The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences. It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate health care professionals and women is ‘ok’. It is not,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in an emailed statement. “I’m grateful that no one in Thousand Oaks was hurt. My thoughts today are with the clinic’s staff, who provide compassionate care in spite of challenges no health care provider should have to face.”

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of violence against women’s health-care clinics that provide legal abortions, Feinstein noted.

“There have been more than 200 arsons and bombings over the past 40 years. These acts are serious crimes at the state and federal level, and the criminals who perpetrate them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said. “Going forward, I hope that my colleagues think about the ramifications of their words. Doctors, nurses, clinic staff and patients should not be terrorized, threatened and put in harm’s way.”

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Carly at odds with HP heirs on Planned Parenthood

As Carly Fiorina joins the rest of the GOP presidential pack in calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the charitable foundations of the two families who founded the company she’s famous for leading remain among Planned Parenthood’s largest donors – to the tune of more than $138 million since 2001.

Carly FiorinaFiorina was CEO of 1999 to 2004, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 business – a major part of the track record she now touts on the campaign trail. She has been an outspoken critic of Planned Parenthood since mid July, when the first of a series of covert videos were released depicting officials from the organization discussing procurement of fetal tissue for stem-cell research.

“I am pro-life. And I believe science is proving us right every day. But you do not have to be pro-life to understand the hideous nature of what is going on here,” she said at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17. “This is about the moral character of our nation. When you can have employees who target poor communities, who are pushing women into later-term abortions so they can more successfully harvest body parts even though late-term abortions are demonstrably bad for women, you can only be horrified when you see employees picking over a Petri dish for body parts while they say, ‘Look, it’s a baby.’ There is no excuse – Planned Parenthood must be defunded.”

Meanwhile, the Menlo Park-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2001 has given $86,580,945 to various domestic and international Planned Parenthood organizations and affiliates. And the Los Altos-based David and Lucille Packard Foundation since 2001 has given $51,883,238. (The Packard Foundation’s online grant database goes back only to 2010, but spokeswoman Felicia Madsen provided the total since 2001.)

There’s been no love lost between Fiorina and some of the HP heirs for quite some time. For example, Jason Burnett – the mayor of Carmel, the grandson of HP cofounder David Packard, and a member of the Packard Foudnation’s board of trustees – earlier this year told CNN that Fiorina shouldn’t work at any level of government: “She did damage to a great company and I don’t want to see her do damage to a great country.”

But Burnett said Wednesday that “there’s no particular reason why a CEO of a technology company needs to hold other policy views consistent with a company’s founders” such as on Planned Parenthood.

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Carly Fiorina talks tough in telephone town hall

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina renewed her call Thursday for a citizen-led government that would grow the economy, cut spending, better support our Middle Eastern allies against ISIS and cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, held a 45-minute telephone town hall Thursday, taking 10 questions from supporters across the country.

Fiorina 5-14-2015 AP photoFiorina – whom the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows is in a three-way tie for 12th place among the 16 major, declared GOP candidates – sounded undaunted by her lack of traction and likened herself to a beloved party icon.

“At this point in previous presidential elections, the polls, the pundits and the money said that Jimmy Carter couldn’t win, Ronald Reagan couldn’t win, Bill Clinton couldn’t win and Barack Obama couldn’t win,” she said, adding “the media may want to control the process, the party may want to control the process, but you know in the end the voters control the process.”

Reagan won the White House in 1980 “because the people decided he should win,” she said – though she didn’t mention that 1980 was Reagan’s third presidential run, and he had served two terms as governor of the nation’s most populous state.

Fiorina said even Republicans who support other candidates are telling her “I would love to see you debate Hillary Clinton.”

“They know what I would do, they know I would win that debate, they know I would bring up all the tough issues that are not being brought up,” she said. “We’re at a pivotal point. We need to challenge the status quo in Washington, D.C.”

More on Fiorina’s policy answers, after the jump…
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Will state GOP amend abortion, marriage stances?

Several California county GOP chairpeople are pushing to make sure the party doesn’t soften its stances against same-sex marriage, abortion rights, illegal immigration and gun control at its convention this September in Anaheim.

CA-GOP logoEight county chairs – including two from the Bay Area – wrote a memo to California Republican Party delegates last week urging support for the party’s current platform.

“We believe this is an excellent platform, reflective of our principles as a party,” the memo said. “It is one that Republicans have united around before and one that is consistent with Republican values nationwide. Tampering with the existing document at this juncture will divide the party and discourage the Republican voters.”

The chairs wrote that they expect the party’s drafting committee might amend four key planks at its meeting next Saturday, Aug. 1 in Los Angeles.

“There may be an effort to significantly change the language and message of three of these planks – Family/Marriage, The Right to Life, and Immigration. Also, we believe we may see an attempt to dilute a fourth plank – The Right to Bear Arms,” the memo said. “If this takes place, these four re-written and significantly weakened planks will be reflected in the Draft Platform. These changes would then make it to the Floor for a vote by all State Delegates at our Fall 2015 State Republican Convention.”

“It is crucial that these four planks be upheld rather than be incrementally chipped away,” the memo concluded. “This Platform will serve to motivate our numerous volunteers and voters who will be needed to Get Out the Vote and rally around our candidates in 2016.

The memo was signed by Alameda County GOP Chairwoman Lori Drake; Calaveras County GOP Chairwoman Vicky Reinke, Contra Costa County GOP Chairman Rohit Joy, Del Norte County GOP Chairwoman Karen Sanders, Fresno County GOP Chairman Fred Vanderhoof, Humboldt County GOP Chairwoman Annette De Modena, Mariposa County GOP Chairman Richard Westfall, and Siskiyou County GOP Chairman Richard Marshall.

The California Republican Party’s current platform says that because family is the foundation on which American society has grown and prospered, “we support the two parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe that it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

On abortion rights, the current platform says the party supports “laws that protect unborn children from partial birth, sex selection, and tax-payer funded abortions, and abortions performed as a form of birth control or on minor girls without their parent’s notification and consent.”

“We believe that the question of abortion is a matter that should be left to the people through their elected representatives, not usurped by the United States Supreme Court, and believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed,” the platform continues.

On immigration, the state GOP’s current platform says controlling the border and enforcing all current laws is the only way to be fair to those who’ve come to the country legally. English should be the government’s official language, it says, with all election ballots and other government documents in English only. It calls for a worker visa program with tamper-proof, biometric ID cards for participants and heavy fines for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. It calls for cross-deputization of state and county law enforcement personnel so immigrants who’ve come here illegally can be deported immediately upon completion of any criminal sentences. And it calls for “the termination of all federal and state benefits to illegal aliens other than emergency medical care.”

And on the right to bear arms, the state GOP’s current platform says “one of the first acts of a totalitarian society is to disarm its people. California’s gun control laws only serve to disarm law abiding citizens, not criminals. We oppose any further gun control legislation and support the right of all California citizens to own and bear guns and ammunition for any lawful purpose.”

The platform calls for statewide legislation setting reasonable criteria to let law-abiding citizens carry concealed weapons, and supports “allowing citizens to use deadly force to protect lives and property. We also support including all of these rights in the California constitution.”

“Finally, we call for the elimination of waiting periods to purchase firearms and instead support complete implementation of instant background checks,” the platform says.

See how these platform planks compare to polls of Californians’ public opinion, after the jump…
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