The Justice Department has signaled its intention to investigate Planned Parenthood following the Senate Judiciary Committee's 2016 probe into allegations that the women's health organization sold the tissue of aborted fetuses, The Daily Beast reports. The allegations arose following a 2015 undercover video shot by the conservative Center for Medical Progress, which purports to show Planned Parenthood staff discussing compensation for fetuses.
Planned Parenthood has called the allegations a coordinated "smear campaign" and notes that "affiliates in just two states ... are involved in fetal tissue research." Additionally, independent analysis of the Center for Medical Progress' undercover recordings found that they were edited and "do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict." The vice president of government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dana Singiser, has said that "Planned Parenthood has never, and would never, profit while facilitating its patients' choice to donate fetal tissue for use in important medical research."
At the conclusion of the Senate Judiciary Committee's probe in December 2016, committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the FBI and the Justice Department that said: "The seeming disregard for the law by [Planned Parenthood] has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it. And, unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against criminalizing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the outcome is likely to continue." At the time, however, The Washington Times wrote that "the Obama administration is unlikely to follow through on the recommendation." That ball is now in the Trump administration's court.
The Justice Department on Thursday requested documents from the Senate's 2016 probe, The Daily Beast reports, based on a letter it obtained. In the letter, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs clarified that "at this point, these records are intended for investigative use only."