HHS Official: No Records Found of Planned Parenthood Oversight, and Unaware If Any Exist

Under the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should be performing audits on Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood must submit paperwork indicating its "research" is available for audits.

By The Editors Published on September 2, 2015

In response to a FOIA request placed by The Stream, Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health Karen DeSalvo has informed The Stream through FOIA staff that she has “no knowledge of these records” related to the agency’s oversight of fetal tissue transfers and federally-funded experiments, “nor do they know where they may be located if they did exist.” This is alarming since under The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, HHS should be performing audits on Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood is required to submit paperwork indicating that its “research” is available for audits.

Spurred by documentary video revealing Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts, The Stream filed a Freedom Of Information Act request with HHS on July 27, specifically with the Office for Human Research Protections overseen by DeSalvo. Our FOIA request asked for documents verifying whether HHS had performed any monitoring of Planned Parenthood’s abortion operations. The Stream also asked for certain emails related to Planned Parenthood.

The response from HHS was due August 24. All responsive records were due for release on August 24. As of this writing, HHS maintains that it has not concluded its search for oversight records and is continuing to redact an unspecified number of emails it located containing the term “Planned Parenthood.” The Stream has appealed the unlawful withholding to Secretary Sylvia Burwell. Burwell has until September 25 to decide the appeal.

With the help of FOIA Resource Center, which is processing this FOIA request, The Stream filed an appeal with HHS on August 25 for failure to comply in a timely manner. There are at least five employees in leadership listed within the “Compliance Oversight” division of The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP).

The Stream will persist in seeking all records establishing what HHS is and is not doing to ensure that abortionists are not profiting from fetal body parts in violation of the law.

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