The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a probe into the federal government’s involvement in fetal tissue research, including a full audit of the way HHS verifies that the grantees who receive money for fetal tissue research aren’t breaking any laws.
HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson opened the investigation after Republican senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul and 34 other senators sent a letter asking for an investigation in October. Their request was based on a series of undercover videos that brought to light Planned Parenthood’s dealing in aborted fetuses and allegations the clinics were illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue to researchers.
HHS awards funding for fetal tissue research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and those grantees presumably obtain the fetal tissue from abortion clinics. Levinson responded to the senators’ request in a letter Tuesday, saying the IG would interview HHS and NIH officials to determine how they verify grantees aren’t breaking fetal tissue laws, and obtain information regarding the nature of the grants and of internal work with fetal tissue.
Squishy wording of a 1993 Republican-backed law overturning a ban on government-funded fetal tissue research is at the heart of the recent allegations against Planned Parenthood. The law bans profit from the exchange of fetal tissue, but allows organizations to receive broadly defined “reasonable payments” that apparently make the ban meaningless in practice.
“Planned Parenthood selling body parts of the unborn demonstrates that the organization deserves not one penny more of our taxpayer dollars, and I am confident this investigation will give further proof of that,” Paul said in a statement regarding the letter Tuesday.
The Center for Medical Progress, which released the undercover videos earlier this year, called the investigation “further confirmation of the serious legal and ethical issues” raised by the videos in an emailed statement.
This report, by Rachel Stoltzfoos, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.