See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.
As state-level investigations into Planned Parenthood continue to find that the health-care provider has not broken any laws by donating fetal tissue for medical research, the Obama administration is now saying that it has found no evidence of wrongdoing among either government researchers who work with fetal tissue or companies that supply it.
Politico reports that Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary Jim Esquea sent a letter Friday to Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) confirming that HHS knows of “no violation” of federal fetal tissue laws “in connection with the research done at our agencies.”
Ernst and Blunt co-sponsored a failed bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood over spurious allegations of wrongdoing by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice front group that has released deceptively edited and possibly illegal undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program.
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“Furthermore … we have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements,” the letter said.
HHS noted that fetal tissue research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes up less than 0.1 percent of the agency’s research budget, and that HHS has gotten reaffirmations from government researchers and government-funded researchers that they are complying with the law.
GOP lawmakers are preparing to launch congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood based on the unsupported allegations in CMP’s videos, despite numerous state-level investigations that have so far come up empty.
The House Oversight Committee on Government Reform recently asked HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to break down exactly how much federal funding Planned Parenthood gets, and for which services.
The committee also demanded that HHS identify which medical services are available “only or exclusively” at Planned Parenthood affiliates, excluding any that “could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.”
GOP lawmakers determined to defund Planned Parenthood have argued recently that the funding should simply be diverted to the nation’s other family planning providers. But critics, including moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), say that those providers are already overburdened and couldn’t possibly take on all of Planned Parenthood’s patients if the provider were to close.