WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is making inquiries to Planned Parenthood and the Justice Department following media reports of a video describing in detail Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of fetal tissue.
The video shows Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director for Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola, describing the organization’s role in the procurement of fetal tissue.
Federal funding accounts for about 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue. In addition, federal law prohibits the buying or selling of human body parts, the use of fetal human tissue for research without the informed consent of the woman having the abortion, and the alteration of abortion methods and procedures solely in order to obtain fetal tissue.
In his initial inquiry to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Grassley began asking questions about the organization’s facilitation of the activities described in the video.
In a separate letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Grassley noted that the video shows Nucatola discussing the statutory interpretation and intent of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. Grassley wrote that this discussion raises questions about whether abortion providers are acting in full compliance with federal law. He asked Lynch to provide the Judiciary Committee with a description of the actions taken by the Department of Justice to ensure compliance with the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Copies of the text of Grassley’s letters are below. A copy of the letter to Planned Parenthood can be found here. A copy of the letter to the Department of Justice can be found here.
July 15, 2015
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Ms. Cecile Richards
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
434 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10001
Dear Ms. Richards:
As you are aware, federal funding accounts for about 40% of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue, and in fiscal year 2014, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates had assets of approximately $1.3 billion, according to its most recent annual report. Recently, a video has surfaced in the media in which Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director for Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola, discusses at length Planned Parenthood’s role in the harvesting of fetal tissue. In the video, she describes, among other things, the fetal organs available for harvesting, the cost per “specimen,” and the coordination with abortion providers to modify their procedures in particular cases to preserve particular organs in order to fill particular orders. Additionally, Nucatola allegedly stated that she encourages local affiliates to determine which fetal organs are in most demand and described how abortion providers allegedly alter the method of abortion to keep the desired organs intact.
As you know, 42 U.S.C. § 274e prohibits buying or selling human body parts and 42 U.S.C. § 289g-1 prohibits the use of fetal human tissue for research without the informed consent of the woman having the abortion and prohibits the alteration of abortion methods and procedures solely in order to obtain fetal tissue. Additionally, 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2 prohibits the commercial trafficking of body parts from an aborted fetus, and 18 U.S.C. § 1531 prohibits partial-birth abortions. Accordingly, the Senate Judiciary Committee is initiating an inquiry into Planned Parenthood’s role in the procurement of fetal tissue and related activities described in the video.
Please provide the Committee with the following by July 29, 2015:
1. All records relating to Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue as well as all records relating to Planned Parenthood’s facilitation or coordination of such provision of fetal tissue by any of its affiliates, including:
a. All presentations, notes, and policies, including manuals on medical practice, as well as descriptions, communications or other records relating to these services.
b. All records relating to Deborah Nucatola and the collection or provision of fetal tissue, including any related presentations, meetings, notes, emails, or other correspondence with abortion providers or with those seeking to acquire fetal organs or tissue.
c. Copies of all instructions, guidance, or communications to abortion providers related to modifying abortion procedures in order to collect particular fetal organs intact.
d. Copies of all physician certifications pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 289g-1(b)(2) in relation to any provision of fetal tissue facilitated or coordinated by Deborah Nucatola.
2. Copies of any and all contracts that each Planned Parenthood affiliate has with companies that procure fetal organs, and the names and contact information of all abortion providers and clinic managers in each Planned Parenthood affiliate.
3. Copies of the memoranda, standard operating procedures, and any other interpretations of the federal Partial Birth Abortion prohibition that are used to instruct abortion providers and clinic managers of all Planned Parenthood affiliates.
4. Copies of the types of consent forms used to obtain consent for such use of fetal tissue from women having abortions.
5. The total amount of revenue generated by Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue.
6. A detailed accounting of the costs incurred by Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue.
If you have any questions about this request, please contact Jason Foster of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
July 15, 2015
The Honorable Loretta Lynch
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
I am writing to request information regarding the Department’s efforts, if any, to ensure compliance with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, P.L. 108-105 (18 U.S.C. § 1531).
Recently, a video has surfaced in the media in which Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola, describes in detail the organization’s role in the harvesting of fetal tissue. In the video, she describes, among other things, the fetal organs available for harvesting and the coordination with abortion providers to modify their procedures in particular cases to preserve particular organs in order to fill particular orders. Nucatola’s discussion also raises questions about whether the actions of abortion providers, and in particular those employed by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, are consistent with federal law:
Process of Breech Conversion: Nucatola explains how abortion providers allegedly alter the method of abortion to keep desired organs intact, including through the use of graspers to crush the unborn child above and below the thorax to ensure no damage to the liver, heart and lungs. She notes the particular difficulty of delivering an intact head and suggests that such difficulty can be overcome through changes in the presentation “so it’s not vertex” (i.e., breech, rather than head first, delivery). She specifically notes: “if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the cases goes on, and often the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium [head] at the end.”
Interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 153: In the above-mentioned video, Nucatola also cites the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban and implies that its interpretation is up to abortion providers’ intent. As she states in the video: “the Federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation. So there are some people who interpret it as intent. So if I say on Day 1 I do not intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t intend to do this on Day 1 so I’m complying with the law.”
Not only the discussion of the evacuation of an intact head, but also the discussion of the statute raise questions about whether abortion providers are acting in full compliance with the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. I respectfully request that you provide the Committee with a description of any and all actions taken by the Department to ensure compliance with this statute.
Charles E. Grassley