After more than a year of congressional digging into the role of Planned Parenthood and partner organizations in the trafficking of fetal tissue, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley will recommend the organization to the FBI for a criminal probe.
In the summer of 2015, there was strong speculation that Planned Parenthood was involved in the potentially illegal trafficking of fetal tissue.
“I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral.”
Various trafficking companies were implicated in what pro-life advocates saw as a cash for fetal organs scheme: StemExpress, LLC; Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc.; Novogenix Laboratories, LLC; and Planned Parenthood(s) of Mar Mante, Los Angeles, Northern California, and the Pacific Southwest.
Federal law explicitly bans the trafficking of fetal tissue for profit — though it does not outlaw trafficking at cost.
The line between lawful and illicit trafficking in fetal tissue is thin and many have speculated Planned Parenthood has worked with procurement companies to violate the law — generating profits by overcharging or fabricating logistical costs.
In the fall of 2015, the House of Representatives convened a special panel to investigate the abortion giants’ possible implication in a widespread conspiracy to break federal law. The panel, chaired by Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, focused on obtaining financial documents from procurement companies that would document just how Planned Parenthood clinics and regional operations charged and were paid for fetal tissue.
The congressional panel was largely stonewalled by the procurement companies who ignored subpoenas for the relevant documents, but Congress was able to obtain enough documents for Grassley to act.
“I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral. But the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it,” Grassley said in a statement. “Unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue.”
The criminal referral to the FBI comes after an analysis by the Senate Judiciary Committee majority staff of more than 20,000 pages of documents concerning the transfer of fetal tissue.
The majority staff on the Judiciary Committee concluded:
1.) Despite the clear legislative history of the 1993 NIH Revitalization Act, the executive branch across multiple administrations has failed to enforce the law’s safeguards.
2.) Since 2010, three companies — Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc.; StemExpress, LLC; and Novogenix Laboratories, LLC (Novogenix has since gone out of business) — have paid affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America to acquire aborted fetuses, and then sold the fetal tissue to their respective customers at substantially higher prices than their documented costs.
3.) The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) initially had a policy in place to ensure its affiliates were complying with the law, but the affiliates failed to follow its fetal tissue reimbursement policy. When PPFA learned in 2011 of this situation, PPFA canceled the policy rather than exercise oversight to bring the affiliates back into compliance. Thus, PPFA not only turned a blind eye to the affiliates’ violations of its fetal tissue policy — it also altered its own oversight procedures, thus enabling those affiliates’ practices to continue unimpeded.
4.) The cost analyses provided by affiliates of PPFA lack sufficient documentation and rely on unreasonably broad and vague claims of costs for “the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage of” fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood attorneys acknowledge that the affiliates failed to follow procedures that were put in place to ensure compliance with the law. In addition, the cost analyses were only performed long after the fact — and at the insistence of the committee.
The ban of profiting from trafficking in fetal tissue was passed in 1993 as part of the NIH Revitalization Act. The Grassley report notes the federal government has since failed to adequately enforce the law.
“Tragically, the executive branch has either failed or simply refused to enforce that safeguard,” the Judiciary referral reads.