Arkansas’ two United States Senators have requested an investigation into Planned Parenthood as a left-leaning media group challenged the veracity of a video that showed officials with Planned Parenthood discussing the group’s role in harvesting organs of unborn babies.
Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark. and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asked for the look into Planned Parenthood.
Boozman and Cotton are two of 50 senators who sent a letter today, led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), calling on Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell to cooperate with ongoing and future investigations regarding the serious issues raised by these videos.
“As a strong believer in the sanctity of life, I am committed to defending those who cannot defend themselves. The amorality of the footage is appalling and raises not only concerns regarding whether Planned Parenthood broke multiple laws, but also the moral, ethical and policy implications its actions may have,” Boozman said. “Further, I simply do not believe that the federal government should be using taxpayer dollars to help fund facilities that provide abortions. The cavalier attitude with which these gruesome practices were discussed reaffirms my position and I am committed to getting the answers to these questions that Arkansans deserve.”
“Words are limiting to try to express the moral shock we feel when confronted by behavior so abhorrent as selling dead baby body parts for profit. But where words fall short I’m hopeful that we can be united in action: we must put an end to the federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Arkansans’ tax dollars should not be supporting an organization that condones the activity we’ve seen in the videos released this week. This should be one issue that transcends partisan politics or ideology. To truly honor the God-given rights to life and liberty enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by our Constitution, we should strive to guarantee those rights to the ones least able to defend themselves—the unborn,” Cotton said.
According to the letter, the senators expressed outrage over the issue.
“The footage raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions,” the senators wrote. “In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy – sometimes even later than 5 months – that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested.”
Boozman and Cotton also called on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a full investigation into whether Planned Parenthood violated federal law.
In a letter sent yesterday, Boozman, Cotton and their colleagues joined Senator Mike Lee, R-UT urging the Attorney General and DHHS Secretary to investigate whether Planned Parenthood violated sections 498A and 498B of the Public Health Service Act.
Section 498A requires doctors to certify that they did not alter the method or timing of an abortion for the purpose of obtaining human fetal tissue when that tissue is used in research conducted or supported by the National Institute of Health.
Section 498B prohibits the sale of human fetal issue, officials said.
“The disturbing facts revealed in this video raise the question of whether the employees of a federally funded organization have violated federal law by engaging in the transfer of human fetal tissue for profit, and whether the modification of abortion techniques for the purpose of obtaining that tissue violates applicable research guidelines established by federal law,” the senators wrote.
MEDIA MATTERS TAKES UMBRAGE
In a blog posting Wednesday, the group, Media Matters for America, called the video “deceptively edited” and said a group, FactCheck.org, had questions over the video.
“FactCheck.org debunked a deceptively edited video from the Center for Medical Progress smearing Planned Parenthood by falsely claiming the organization has been “selling” fetal tissue donations, pointing out that the unedited video shows the clinics just “want to cover their costs, not make money” when making donations,” the blog posting noted.
“Discredited anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress released a deceptively cut video claiming to have caught a Planned Parenthood official discussing the “selling [of] aborted baby parts” on July 14. Conservatives jumped on the opportunity to call to defund Planned Parenthood, despite mainstream media calling out the attack for “show[ing] nothing illegal.”
The blog posting also cited the FactCheck.org look into details about the issue.
“FactCheck.org further demolished the video’s credibility in a July 21 post explaining that, despite Center for Medical Progress’ claim, the video does not show Planned Parenthood violated any laws. Noting that the official in the video “repeatedly say[s] its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research,” the fact-check quotes “biorepository” experts explaining that the fees discussed in the video would not generate “a profit at that price” — it’d just offset some of the costs associated with the process,” the blog noted.
“We also asked experts in the use of human tissue for research about the potential for profit. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s “biorepository,” told us that “there’s no way there’s a profit at that price.”
She continued in an email:
Sawyer, July 20: In reality, $30-100 probably constitutes a loss for [Planned Parenthood]. The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures (ones no longer needed for clinical purposes, and without identity) for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block. In the realm of tissues for research $30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.
Jim Vaught, president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and formerly the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research, told us in an email that “$30 to $100 per sample is a reasonable charge for clinical operations to recover their costs for providing tissue.” In fact, he said, the costs to a clinic are often much higher, but most operations that provide this kind of tissue have “no intention of fully recovering [their] costs, much less making a profit.”
Carolyn Compton, the chief medical and science officer of Arizona State University’s National Biomarkers Development Alliance and a former director of biorepositories and biospecimen research at the National Cancer Institute, agreed that this was “a modest price tag for cost recovery.” Compton told us in an email: ” ‘Profit’ is out of the question, in my mind. I would say that whoever opined about ‘profit’ knows very little about the effort and expense involved in providing human biospecimens for research purposes.”