Idaho lawmakers respond to Planned Parenthood undercover videos

AP and Staff Reports

BOISE – Earlier this month, anti-abortion group The Center for Medical Progress, released two videos claiming to show that Planned Parenthood executives were selling aborted fetal organs.

The second and most recent video shows Dr. Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood medical director in Southern California, meeting with people posing as potential buyers of intact fetal specimens. Much of the conversation on the video deals with how much money the buyers should pay.

Federal law prohibits the commercial sale of fetal tissue, but allows not-for-profit donation of tissue if the women who underwent abortions give their consent. Planned Parenthood contends that the payments discussed in the new video, and a similar one released last week, pertain to reimbursement for the costs of procuring the tissue (storage, transportation, etc) — which is legal.

Regardless, the videos have conservative legislators up in arms.

Top republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter last week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to describe how the Justice Department enforces the prohibition against partial birth abortion and to investigate whether Planned Parenthood violated it.

Idaho’s federal representatives are joining the chorus of distrust for Planned Parenthood.

Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch last week joined a bipartisan group of senators in calling on Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to get to the bottom of what has been going on at Planned Parenthood.  In a letter to the Secretary, the Senators draw attention to the legal, ethical and policy issues raised by the recent video footage released by the Center for Medical Progress depicting senior Planned Parenthood Federation of America executives discussing in gruesome detail the organization’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies. 

“The footage raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions,” the senators wrote. “In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy – sometimes even later than 5 months – that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested.”

The senators also requested that the Secretary confirm the commencement or immediate initiation of “a thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood – one of the Department’s grantees – with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements.”

That same week, Rep. Raul Labrador released a bold statement declaring his disgust with Planned Parenthood’s practices.

“I am sickened and disgusted by the inhumane attitude Planned Parenthood officials displayed as they discussed the sale of aborted fetuses over lunch,” Labrador said in the statement. “Their attitude towards human life should be condemned. I believe that all life is sacred, and should not be for sale. The fact that these officials view aborted fetuses as mere commodities is a sad commentary on our society.

“As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I will participate in a vigorous investigation into whether Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from the sale of organs and body parts from aborted babies. Nothing is more sacred than human life. Indifference to these grotesque practices demeans every American, regardless of their view on abortion.”

Labrador is the cosponsor of a bill, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, that would place a one-year moratorium on any federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said the source of the videos “is a group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely.”

“What the video released today shows is a Planned Parenthood medical provider, who has dedicated her career to ensuring that women have access to the best health care, stating over and over again that she follows all laws and medical standards,” Ferrero said. “The fact remains that there is nothing in these videos to suggest any violation of law or improper activity.”

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