Sen. Richard Shelby co-wrote an open letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell castigating the reproductive rights group Planned Parenthood after the release of a video that purports to show representatives discussing the illicit sale of fetal tissue or “baby parts,” as many are calling it.
The letter co-signed by Alabama’s senior U.S. senator raised pointed questions about whether Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest single provider of abortion procedures, is violating federal laws prohibiting so-called “partial birth” or late-term pregnancy terminations and the “harvesting” of fetal organs.
Shelby, joined by 49 of his Republican Senate colleagues, went further than that.
“We believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in pregnancy — sometimes later than 5 months — that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested,” the group wrote.
The coterie of senators called on the federal health care bureaucracy to aid them in future investigations planned by the Republican-controlled Senate, striking the ominous tone of an upcoming legal showdown.
“Congress is taking action to address these questions and we expect the Department of Health to fully cooperate with ensuing investigations — including future requests for information and hearing participation” they wrote. “To that end, we further expect the immediate preservation of any and all Department electronic and paper records that could have any relevance to any ongoing or upcoming lawful investigation.”
Shelby and his co-signers also called on the DOH to conduct their internal probe on the basis that Planned Parenthood receives grants from the department.
See the full text of the letter here.