House Panel Recommends Criminal Investigation of Planned Parenthood Affiliate
The House of Representatives’ Select Panel on Infant Lives has recommended the Texas Attorney General prosecute a Planned Parenthood affiliate that allegedly, and illegally, sold fetal parts to the University of Texas. The House also approved continued funding for its investigative panel, by a party-line vote of 235 to 176, with just two Democrats voting with the majority.
The referral, made earlier today, was formally announced by Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on the House floor (starting at 3:24 of the video). According to Love, “the Panel learned that Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast violated both Texas and U.S. law when it sold baby parts to the University of Texas.”
A panel spokesperson confirmed the referral to The Stream. It is the ninth from the Select Panel, which has determined that fetal harvesting company StemExpress, the University of New Mexico and other for-profit and non-profit organizations violated various state and/or federal laws in Ohio, California, New Mexico, Florida and other states.
In California, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed lawsuits against two companies after the panel’s referral. Two other abortion centers have been referred for prosecution in addition to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
The referral is not the first federal controversy for the Planned Parenthood affiliate. In 2013, it settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that it overcharged Texas and the federal government for various products and services. The $4.3 settlement did not require Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to admit guilt in the case, which was brought by a former employee-turned-whistleblower.
Approximately an hour after Love spoke, the House voted to fund the Panel with up to $800,000 above and beyond the $790,000 already slated for investigations of the fetal harvesting industry. The money comes from taxpayer-funded House reserve funds that have already been appropriated for use by the House, and will fund the Panel until its statutorily-limited existence ends with the start of the 115th Congress.
Democrats have condemned the Panel, calling the money spent on its investigations a waste of taxpayer resources and the investigations themselves “a witch hunt.” The Panel’s Ranking Member, Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, responded after Love’s speech that “bogus referrals do not a conviction make.”
Panel Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), however, said that the investigation has “reveals that the unethical and potentially unlawful practices of some bad actors may be putting important research at risk. Considering all that our Panel has identified, despite having barely a year to conduct this investigation, it is now up to us to build on this work, to hold our government accountable, and to stop these affronts to human dignity.”
Pro-Life Groups React
The Center for Medical Progress, which provided undercover videos in 2015 that led to the Panel’s creation, said in a statement that the Panel’s findings and Texas referral “confirm the criminal activity at Planned Parenthood that CMP’s videos documented and show that the wrongdoing goes even deeper than anyone first suspected.”
“Law enforcement and elected representatives at all levels must now act quickly to bring Planned Parenthood to justice under the law and prevent any more taxpayer subsidies from flowing to Planned Parenthood’s barbaric criminal enterprise,” concluded the pro-life group.
In a press release, Texas Right to Life praised the prosecution referral. “The diligent work of the federal House Select Panel under the leadership of Pro-Life stalwart Representative Marsha Blackburn has renewed hopes in Texas that the shocking evidence revealed by the Center for Medical Progress will be thoroughly investigated and those at fault held accountable to the full extent of the law,” said the group.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that the Texas referral “is the appropriate next step in bringing justice to bear on a group that clearly sees itself as above the law.” He urged Congress to “once again use the reconciliation process to redirect taxpayer dollars away from Planned Parenthood,” as the legislative body did less than a year ago.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with quotes from Blackburn, Texas Right to Life, and Perkins.