Agency Inspector General To Probe Planned Parenthood’s Fetal Tissue Transfers

The Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation – which will include a full audit – of Planned Parenthood’s compliance with federal regulations on fetal-tissue transfers.

The probe by the legally independent IG was caused by a series of videos exposing the abortion provider’s apparent practices of trading body parts of aborted babies and altering the position of babies during abortions to harvest intact organs.

According to Sen. Rand Paul’s office, HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson has opened an investigation that was requested by Paul in October.

“I am encouraged to see the Inspector General take action to investigate Planned Parenthood’s unconscionable practices,” Paul said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood selling body parts of the unborn demonstrates that the organization deserves not one penny more of our taxpayer dollars, and I am confident this investigation will give further proof of that.”

In an earlier letter to Levinson that was signed by 34 other U.S. senators, Paul wrote:

The Planned Parenthood videos recently released by the Center for Medical Progress raise serious concerns about potential violations of federal law prohibiting the transfer of fetal tissue for valuable consideration. The videos not only raise questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, but also highlight potentially significant problems with HHS’s oversight of practices in this market in general.

In his letter back to Paul, Levinson cites a prior meeting between Paul’s staff and the HHS’ inspector general’s staff, and writes:

As discussed in that meeting, we will interview HHS and National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials, as the majority of HHS funding for human fetal tissue research is awarded through NIH. This approach will also focus on gathering relevant documentation related to policies and procedures for monitoring fetal tissue research activities. Our goal is to obtain information related to fetal tissue research grants, NIH’s monitoring procedures over third-party certifications and those related to the Department’s internal fetal tissue research, and any known violations of Federal requirements.

“I am encouraged to see the Inspector General take action to investigate Planned Parenthood’s unconscionable practices,” Paul said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood selling body parts of the unborn demonstrates that the organization deserves not one penny more of our taxpayer dollars, and I am confident this investigation will give further proof of that.”

As a result of information from videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest abortion provider – has been under congressional investigation.

In July, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee that she had not viewed any of the videos regarding Planned Parenthood’s involvement in harvesting the body parts of aborted babies for sale, and that her office would not be conducting an investigation into the practices of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Though the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that HHS has given Planned Parenthood $67.2 million between 2010 and 2012 – $62.8 million or 93 percent of which came directly from the secretary’s office (Kathleen Sebelius) – Burwell dismissed the notion that her department should investigate Planned Parenthood, stating it would be more appropriate for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a probe.

Paul had joined with 49 other U.S. senators in a letter to Burwell immediately following the release of the initial CMP videos asking HHS to conduct an internal review of the compliance of both HHS and its grantee, Planned Parenthood, with all applicable federal laws, including those that ban the sale of fetal tissue for profit.

“The response received from Sec. Burwell in August was unacceptable and makes clear that a thorough internal investigation of compliance was not conducted,” Paul’s office said.


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