As House Republicans launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of undercover footage that shows a doctor discussing the donation of fetal parts after an abortion, House Democrats are calling for an investigation into the group behind the "sting" videos.
Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Tuesday to review whether the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress broke state and federal laws when it created a fake human tissue procurement company in order to gain access to and secretly film Planned Parenthood staffers. The Huffington Post reported on Friday that the CMP may have also illegally deceived the IRS and its donors by posing as a biomedicine charity in 2013.
“I am deeply concerned about the allegations that federal and state laws were violated in an attempt to attack Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides critical health care services to more than three million men and women each year, and that the attack was coordinated by conservative activists who want to discredit Planned Parenthood and its work,” Clarke said in a statement. “I urge Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Honorable Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, to initiate a full investigation into this incident to determine if any fraud or other illegal activities were committed.”
The Center for Medical Progress, which has ties to the violent anti-abortion activists at Operation Rescue, has released two heavily edited undercover videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood said the videos actually show employees discussing the donation of fetal tissue to scientific research, which is legal, not-for-profit and done only with the permission of the woman seeking the abortion. FactCheck.org debunked the CMP's claims, noting that Planned Parenthood cannot possibly profit from the donation of fetal tissue based on the small reimbursement costs the doctor was caught discussing.
But anti-abortion lawmakers are seizing on the opportunity to take down the family planning provider. House Republicans launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood immediately following the release of the first video, and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said they would attempt to force a vote this week on an amendment to the highway bill that would strip all federal Title X family planning funds from Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. The family planning provider uses the funds to subsidize the costs of birth control and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment for low-income women.
Paul said the videos should motivate Republicans to focus more on abortion.
"I think Republicans have run away from the abortion issue," he said. "This is baby parts we’re talking about."