WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has launched a formal investigation into Planned Parenthood over its sale of fetal tissue.
In December 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee launched a probe into Planned Parenthood, preparing a “Human Fetal Tissue Research” report. Now, according to a letter obtained by Fox News, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd is requesting unredacted documents from the committee’s report, confirming the existence of a federal investigation.
“The Department of Justice appreciates the offer of assistance in obtaining these materials, and would like to request the Committee provide unredacted copies of records contained in the report, in order to further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of that report based on the full range of information available,” Boyd wrote.
Fox News reports the FBI requested the documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, but Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) denied the request, saying they needed a formal letter confirming the documents would only be used for investigative purposes. Boyd confirmed the intent in his letter requesting the documents last week.
“At this point, the records are intended for investigative use only—we understand that a resolution from the Senate may be required if the Department were to use any of the unredacted materials in a formal legal proceeding, such as a grand jury,” Boyd wrote.
The federal investigation renews debate of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices. The issue first came to light in 2015 following the release of undercover videos recorded by David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, exposing the sale of the remains of aborted babies at Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities.
Following the national exposure of Planned Parenthood in the 2015 Center for Medical Progress videos, Minnesota lawmakers turned their attention to local Planned Parenthood clinics and the University of Minnesota (UMN), questioning the school’s participation in fetal tissue research.
While research universities are likely recipients of the body parts harvested from aborted babies, UMN originally denied any involvement. Alpha News spoke with Evan Lapiska, UMN Director of Public Relations, who claimed the University conducts no studies using fetal tissue. It was not until Alpha News discovered purchase orders of fetal tissue by UMN that they admitted to the practice.
UMN has experienced continued legal challenges over their involvement in fetal tissue research. A lawsuit, Pro-Life Action Ministries, Incorporated, Brian Gibson and Bridget Busacker v. Regents of the University of Minnesota, was originally filed in October 2016, and claimed UMN’s use of aborted fetal tissue was in direct violation of a Minnesota Statute. The lawsuit was dismissed in April by a Hennepin County District Court judge, citing a lack of evidence from the petitions.
In July, the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, filed a motion for relief from the dismissal, citing new evidence proving the university had been circumventing the Minnesota legislature’s intended restrictions on the use of aborted fetal tissue research. Erick Kaardal, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, said in a press release the new evidence confirmed the university “knew it was conducting legally unauthorized experimentation on fetal tissue at the taxpayers’ expense.”
While the issue has received less attention in recent months, the latest revelations of a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood could reignite the probe into UMN and spur further legal challenges for the university. Subscribe to Alpha News for updates as the federal investigation proceeds.