AUSTIN, Texas—The Attorney General of Texas testified today before a state senate committee and promised an “aggressive investigation” of Planned Parenthood. The committee is investigating the business practices of the abortion provider. Texas officials have called for an investigation after the recent release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing the harvesting and sale of baby body parts.
A hearing, held on Wednesday before the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, requested the Texas attorney general as one of the witnesses to testify before the committee.
On July 15th, the Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) announced that there would be an investigation, and that it would be coordinated with Governor Greg Abbott, and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HSSC).
Paxton testified that shortly after the undercover videos surfaced “my office, coordinating with Gov. Abbott and officials at the HHSC, launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s activities in Texas.” He said, “Our goal is to find out if anyone anywhere in Texas has violated the law, and if so, to seek legal redress.”
The investigation is occurring across Texas, and the OAG is gathering information and evidence.
Representatives of the OAG visited a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic last week where they were invited by those at Planned Parenthood to look around the facility.
Attorney General Paxton said OAG employees were invited to “take a look around, including a stop at what they call the ‘POC Room.’” He clarified, that “POC stands for ‘Products of Conception.’”
It is in this room he said, “where Lab technicians receive the remains of aborted children – also known as ‘the products’ – which are washed, examined, bagged, refrigerated, accumulated and every week taken away by a contractor that burns their bodies as medical waste.”
He said his staffers watched a technician take an aborted child from a jar, rinse it in a colander, and place the body parts in a tray. He testified, “Fingers and toes, exceptionally tiny but fully-formed, were clearly visible.” The baby parts were eventually deposited in a red plastic bag which was about the size of an average grocery sack.
The employees at the Houston abortion clinic told his staff that an average of 260 pounds of “medical waste” is collected every week.
The Texas attorney general guaranteed that his office “is aggressively investigating and we will go to any and all lawful lengths to get to the bottom of what has been happening. But more than any misdeeds involving the sale of aborted baby parts is this fundamental truth: the true abomination in all this is the institution of abortion.”
Paxton condemned abortion, and the disposal of the bodies of the unborn children. He said, “their fate is a plastic bag in a refrigerator, and anonymous disposal in an incinerator somewhere.” He said, “Even the remains of our most vicious criminals are treated with respect.”
In referring to the Planned Parenthood videos which started federal and state government investigations, Paxton said, “At a minimum, the people involved project a cold, calculating, almost inhuman indifference to the lives they treat as a product they’re attempting to sell.” He continued, “At worst, they may represent a violation of state and federal laws.”
The chairman of the committee, Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), asked the Attorney General whether he had seen whether any federal or state laws have been broken. Paxton answered that it was too soon to answer his question at this time.
Paxton promised that his office will continue to investigate, and if necessary, “will seek to bring any Texans that might be involved to justice.”
When asked for a timeline in which he could expect to have the investigation completed, Paxton replied he would not guess.
Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), a practicing licensed physician, mentioned that federal law prohibits the alteration, timing, or method of an abortion, and expressed concern whether baby body parts are being harvested through illegal abortion procedures.
Sen. Campbell also wanted to know, “What is the most respectable thing to do with regard to human life remains?”
Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) asked Paxton if he was going to investigate the individuals who “got false IDs” and went undercover to get the videos. Paxton told her that it would be up to local district attorneys to prosecute any criminal violations.
The Houston senator showed up for the committee hearing and sat with the senators although she was not a member of the committee.
Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) told the AG, “there is more than one party involved in the sale process. If you are going to conduct a full investigation, you need to start from top to bottom.” He was concerned with whether or not the nondisclosure agreements signed by those who made the videotapes were violated. The Democrat senator wanted the OAG to investigate and “let the chips fall where they may.”
Sen. Schwertner reminded the senator from El Paso that the “abortion facilities have the ultimate responsibility and it does not absolve them … from following the law.” The chairman said the focus of the investigation is whether women are giving informed consent, whether abortion procedures are being altered to harvest an asset that is valuable to the abortion industry, and the handling of the bodies of these children once procured.
The chairman repeatedly said that the focus of the senate hearing would be on whether state or federal laws have been broken by abortion providers.
During the hearing, Garcia and Rodriguez seemed more focused on the behavior of those shining the light on Planned Parenthood than on the organization itself.
The attorney general said that the investigation would be very focused on whether state laws and federal laws were broken as it relates to the sales and harvesting of baby body parts. He said he would certainly look at any violations of the law to see if a referral to local or federal authorities needed to be made.
The attorney general told the senators on the committee that his office received a video involving a Texas branch of Planned Parenthood.
Texas’ top lawyer said that he could not go into detail about the recordings at this juncture because the video is part of the OAG’s investigation.
He said, these recordings “appear to be consistent with other videos that have been released regarding Planned Parenthood.”
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2