An inspector general has agreed to probe how the government doles out money to study fetal tissue, Sen. Rand Paul announced Tuesday, in an investigation he said could pry into Planned Parenthood’s sale of parts of aborted fetuses for research purposes.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General confirmed the probe in a Dec. 4 letter to Mr. Paul, saying it will interview officials at HHS and particularly those at the National Institutes of Health, which awards most of the funding for human fetal tissue research. It will also probe whether the government is conducting adequate oversight of the research to make sure no one is breaking the law.
Pro-lifers scored a second Christmas-week victory against Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, breaking the abortion provider’s winning streak in federal courts against efforts by states to defund the organization.
U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that Utah has the authority to terminate a contract that dispensed federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. Planned Parenthood had recorded a string of court victories this year in its effort to stop elected officials in a half-dozen states from defunding local affiliates.
The federal probe and the state defunding battles come after a series of videos taken by the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the production of tissue from aborted fetuses and the price to be paid for it.
Fetal cells and parts can be sold, but not for a profit — only handling fees are legally allowed. Planned Parenthood officials say they did nothing wrong but have reversed policy to refuse all money for fetal parts, not even taking the permitted fees.
And they remain a target for Republicans who doubt their assertions.
“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,” Mr. Paul said Tuesday.
Mr. Paul wants to know how much third parties paid to Planned Parenthood or similar entities for harvested tissue, how the prices were set and how NIH ensures that no one is profiting from the transfers.
He also would like to know how research groups certify their compliance with existing law.
For its part, Planned Parenthood welcomed the “timely” audit, saying it had been asking the NIH since July to create an independent panel to conduct its first examination of fetal tissue research standards since the Reagan administration.
“As we have made clear from the beginning, Planned Parenthood has never sold fetal tissue for profit,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Instead, currently, we help women in two states who wish to do so donate tissue to this important medical research,” she said. “These false and baseless claims against…