Lawmakers Ask DOJ for Statistics on Sale of Fetal Tissue

Goodlatte, R-Va., wants to know if the Justice Department is enforcing laws banning the sale of fetal tissues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Following the controversial release of a string of undercover Planned Parenthood videos , House Republican leaders want to know if the Department of Justice is enforcing bans on the sale of fetal tissue.  

House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte and Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Chairman Trent Franks sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the DOJ to turn over every complaint made against an organization or individual for selling fetal tissue. Goodlatte and Franks note that following the recent release of videos showing Planned Parenthood workers discussing fetal body tissue, the Judiciary Committee has opened up an investigation and has previously called upon the Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation.  

Now the two Republicans are calling on the DOJ to release the history of complaints regarding fetal body tissue sales and trafficking in the interest of "understanding the history of the enforcement of these laws at the Department of Justice.”  

Here's the full text of the Goodlatte-Franks letter:

Dear Attorney General Lynch: The House Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood abortionists altered procedures in order to harvest the organs and body parts of aborted children.  “I’d say a lot of people want liver,” an executive from Planned Parenthood stated in a video released on July 15, 2015. “And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.”  She further stated: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” New evidence suggests that this disturbing practice of altering the procedure is more than an isolated instance. In a recent video released on July 21, 2015, yet another Planned Parenthood abortionist executive stated: Let me explain to you a little bit of a problem, which may not be a big problem, if our usual technique is suction at 10 to 12 weeks and we switch to using an IPAS [manual vacuum aspirator] or something with less suction or to increase the odds that it will come out as an intact specimen, then we’re kind of violating the protocol that says to the patient, “We’re not doing anything different in our care of you.” Now to me, that’s kind of a specious little argument and I wouldn’t object to asking Ian, who’s our surgeon who does the cases, to use an IPAS at that gestational age in order to increase the odds that he’s going to get an intact specimen. Later in the video, when asked if she would be happy with the dollar amount per specimen suggested by the undercover investigative journalist, the Planned Parenthood abortionist executive stated: “Well, let me find out from other affiliates in California [what they] are getting and if they’re getting more, then we can discuss it then.” She continued, “But, you know, the money is not the important thing, but it has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for me.” At least three federal laws may be implicated by this video: 42 U.S.C. § 274e, which states that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce"; 42 U.S.C. § 289g, which states that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce”; and 18 U.S.C. § 1531, which prohibits partial-birth abortions.  We write regarding our interest in understanding the history of the enforcement of these laws at the Department of Justice. Please provide the Committee with a copy of the complaint in every case filed by the Department in which a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 274e, 42 U.S.C. § 289g, or 18 U.S.C. § 1531, and any related federal laws, is alleged. Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this request.

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