WASHINGTON (BP) – Planned Parenthood remains a target of a Capitol Hill investigation but retains its federal funding a year after undercover video first revealed the abortion giant’s trade in baby body parts.
A special congressional panel issued an interim update July 14 on the one-year anniversary of the release of the first video showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs from aborted children. The series of secretly recorded videos featured Planned Parenthood executives discussing their sale of fetal parts as well as their willingness to manipulate the abortion procedure to preserve organs for sale and use.
In issuing the update, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R.-Tenn., who chairs the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives in the House of Representatives, reported its investigation into the trade in fetal tissue has found a “motive for illicit profit.” In its first six months of work, the panel has “uncovered evidence that some abortion providers have altered abortion procedures in a manner that substitutes what is best for the patient with a financial benefit for both the abortion clinic and the [tissue] procurement company.”
In the interim update, Blackburn and the Republican panel members reported one of their hearings uncovered serious concerns about the process used for women to grant consent.
“Evidence revealed that self-interested staff, whose pay depends on the numbers of specimens donated, were assigned to obtain consent from patients,” according to the update. “Additional evidence showed that tissue technicians and the abortion clinics violated the patient’s HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] rights. … This evidence points toward conduct focused on profit and not on patient welfare.”
A 1993 federal law prohibits payments beyond reasonable costs for such activities as processing, storage and transportation of human fetal tissue.
While the Republican-controlled Congress has approved inquiries by five different panels, it has been unable to enact a ban on funding for Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading abortion provider and the organization in the spotlight of the investigations.
Both the Senate and House passed legislation that would have eliminated about 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, but President Obama vetoed the bill in January. A House attempt to override the veto fell far short of the two-thirds majority required.
David Daleiden, who led the undercover video investigation as head of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), said on the one-year anniversary that the mounting evidence makes it “clear Planned Parenthood is guilty of far more wrongdoing in their fetal harvesting scheme than anyone initially realized.”
The House’s Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives reported StemExpress, a leading tissue procurement business, “has consistently refused to produce subpoenaed accounting documents” required by the panel. The panel will seek to gain full compliance with its subpoenas from StemExpress and other organizations. The panel is to issue a final report by Dec. 31.
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates received $553.7 million in government grants and reimbursements, according to its latest annual financial report (2014-15). Planned Parenthood affiliates performed 323,999 abortions during 2013-14, the most recent year for which statistics are available.