In testimony before the House Education and the Workforce Committee Tuesday, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell said 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.
According to a news release at the Committee’s website and video of Burwell’s testimony, the secretary said she had not personally viewed any of the videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, despite the fact that they are widely available online.
When Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) asked Burwell if she had seen the videos, she replied, “I have not seen the videos. I have read the articles about them.”
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.
In response to a question by Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) about when her office would conduct an investigation of Planned Parenthood, Burwell said:
This is an important issue and one that there is passionate and emotion and belief on many sides of the issue and want to respect that … With regard to investigating or looking into those issues, as I said, because it is a statutory legal issue, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General has said she has taken those issues under review and will determine what the appropriate next step is.
When committee chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN) again questioned Burwell on her statement that an investigation into Planned Parenthood should only be pursued by the DOJ, Burwell responded, “With regard to the determination of if a law has been broken, in those cases, that is the Department of Justice. If there are any concerns at all with our grantees, we would want to refer that to our IG and/or the Department of Justice depending on those circumstances.”