WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (IG) has announced that it will investigate federal oversight of the use of aborted babies for scientific research after members of Congress sent a letter earlier this year requesting the review.
According to reports, 35 Senators signed a letter this past October requesting that the Obama administration conduct an audit of “all fetal tissue research supported by HHS, specifically examining the government’s oversight of contractor and grantee compliance with the laws governing fetal tissue research.” The effort was led by presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
On Tuesday, Paul released a letter he received from HHS stating that the department would conduct a review into how “fetal tissue” research is monitored.
“Our goal is to obtain information related to fetal tissue research grants, NIH’s monitoring procedures over third-party certifications and those related to the Department’s internal fetal tissue research, and any known violations of federal requirements,” wrote HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson.
Paul, who sought the review upon release of undercover videos regarding Planned Parenthood’s alleged harvesting and sale of baby organs, said that he was pleased with the response.
“I am encouraged to see the inspector general take action to investigate Planned Parenthood’s unconscionable practices,” he said in a statement. “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.”
However, Planned Parenthood, which announced in January that it conducted 327,653 abortions in 2013, likewise welcomed the investigation.
“We applaud the HHS for this timely review of practices around fetal tissue donation,” Vice President Dawn Laguens said. “This work is often critical to lifesaving medical research, and has helped with important breakthroughs, such as the polio vaccine and research into a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”
Some pro-life groups have been disappointed with the Republican party for not seeking to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding in a recently-passed $1.1 trillion omnibus bill. On Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan told talk show host Bill Bennett that language defunding Planned Parenthood was not included in the spending bill because it would have been filibustered in the Senate.
“First of all, we did put the riders on Planned Parenthood to prevent them from having any money going toward abortion—like we have in the past—and we maintained all of our Hyde Amendment protections for pro-life,” he said. “So we maintained our pro-life riders, but what we realized was the Planned Parenthood defunding bill was going to get filibustered in the Senate, so we weren’t even going to get past the U.S. Senate with a Planned Parenthood bill in the omnibus.”
Ryan noted that earlier in the month, the Senate passed what is known as a “reconciliation bill” that contained language to defund Planned Parenthood, and decided to choose that angle instead since the bill still has a chance of being passed in the House.
“So we have Planned Parenthood defunded in the reconciliation bill,” he said. “You can use this bill once a year and we used it for this.”
“Many of my colleagues and I still believe the better choice for taxpayers is to redirect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding to the thousands of community health centers that are actually providing health services to women in need,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters.