The FBI has signaled it might be looking into whether Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetus tissue was legal.
What’s going on?
According to a report from The Hill, the FBI has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee for documents related to its investigation of Planned Parenthood's practice of selling fetal tissues and organs.
The report says the request was made in recent days. It comes after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to the FBI last year following a lengthy investigation into the questionable practice.
The Senate’s investigation came after the Center for Medical Progress released numerous undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sell of aborted fetal body parts. CMP believed Planned Parenthood was turning a profit from the sales; Grassley’s committee concurred.
Did Planned Parenthood break any laws?
This is where it gets murky. Under a 1993 law, abortion providers are allowed to sell aborted fetal tissues and body parts for research at a cost equal to the price it took to obtain them. Abortion providers are not allowed to sell parts for profit.
However, in practice, the law begins to lose its meaning because it says abortion providers can receive "reasonable payments” for their services. “Reasonable” has never been defined and has a wide range of meanings.
For its part, Planned Parenthood maintained the fees it charged covered the price of obtaining the tissue, testing the tissue for diseases, legal costs, among other services. The organization has denied ever making a profit.
What did the congressional investigation find?
From the report: "The companies involved in transferring fetal tissue have been free to receive substantial payment with impunity, relying on an expansive interpretation of the exception to the ban on buying and selling fetal tissue."
The Hill has more:
The Senate report concluded that the prices paid for tissue and body parts exceeded the actual costs, and that in some cases such costs weren’t even calculated until after investigators began asking questions.
In one example cited by the Senate report, a firm’s own records show it paid $60 for an aborted fetus from a Planned Parenthood clinic, then transferred the various parts for $2,275 — including the brain for $325, two eyes for $650, and a part of a liver for $325. The firm also charged additional fees for shipping and disease screening, the report said.
So far, nothing more has come from the Senate's investigation.