Congress was recently informed by Department of Justice officials of their intention to follow up on calls to investigate the appalling practice of abortion providers harvesting and trafficking fetal organs for profit. It’s about time.
As you may remember, in July of 2015, senior Planned Parenthood officials were caught on camera discussing how abortion procedures could be systematically altered in order to preserve certain organs so they could be sold to researchers. One described in disturbing terms how a person performing an abortion could “crush” here and “crush” there, being careful to preserve certain body parts because they are valuable on the research market. Another discussed developing a kind of menu for organs and how lucrative these arrangements could be.
It was sick, callous, and completely inhuman. It also happens to be against the law. The purchase and sale of human fetal tissue is prohibited by federal law, as is altering the timing or method of an abortion to gain material for research.
Planned Parenthood has claimed that its abortion clinics only collect “tissue” legally for research purposes and that any payments are simply cost reimbursements. However, the menu and price scheme discussed on camera strongly suggest a competitive market at play, and it was clear that officials were willing to alter abortion procedures in order to preserve certain in-demand organs. Planned Parenthood also later reversed its policy and stopped clinics from accepting payments for tissue – a change that seems unnecessary if they weren’t doing anything wrong.
Several of my colleagues and I immediately called for an investigation into these disturbing revelations. Unfortunately, our demands fell on deaf ears. Even after multiple congressional committees referred their own investigations to the authorities at the Department of Justice, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch declined to pursue an investigation. At the time, I said it was disappointing, but hardly surprising. It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood throws around considerable political weight in Washington.
In this country, no one is above the law. That’s why I was so very pleased to receive word that the Department of Justice, now under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appears to be following up on the evidence and taking our calls for an investigation seriously.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, who I’m proud to say was formerly my Chief of Staff, requested un-redacted documents from the Committee’s investigation into the suspected harvesting and trafficking of fetal tissue. Assistant Attorney General Boyd said for now the documents are being used for investigative purposes only, and a formal resolution may be required for further proceedings, such as a grand jury.
I appreciate the Department’s attention to this matter, and I can say for certain that I won’t be the only one watching this closely. When the terrible videos first surfaced in 2015, I went directly to the House floor and spoke out to raise awareness about this outrageous activity. Someone later told me that I was the first person to speak on the floor about the scandal. Let me be clear: If I have to, I will be the last.
I said then, “I promise… we are not done talking about this.” I am pleased that with the new leadership at the Department of Justice, that has proven to be true. I’ll keep you informed as we learn more about this investigation.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama with her husband Riley and their two children.