Republican Senators Call For Investigation Of Planned Parenthood

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Most Republican Senators signed a letter sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Wednesday demanding an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

The letter comes after an anti-abortion group released undercover videos critics claim show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue.

"The footage raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions," the senators wrote.

They added, "Congress is undertaking efforts to address these questions, and we expect the Department of Health and Human Services to fully cooperate with ensuing investigations - including future requests for information and hearing participation."

The letter was signed by all but five Republican Senators along with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Dean Heller, R-Nev., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, were the only GOP Senators that did not sign the letter.

A smaller group of Senators also sent a separate letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the Justice Department to open an investigation of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $500 million in taxpayer funding annually, claims the videos were heavily edited to make outrageous accusations about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research.

The reproductive health care group said it receives no financial benefit from the tissue donation but noted that procurement costs are sometimes reimbursed, which it said is standard across the medical field.

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, said, "We know the real agenda of organizations behind videos like this, and they have never been concerned with protecting the health and safety of women."

"Their mission is to ban abortion completely and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers," she added. "We will never let that happen."

Meanwhile, a small group of House Democrats have sent a letter to Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris requesting an investigation into the Center for Medical Progress, the group that secretly recorded the videos.

The letter from Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., said the elaborate scheme involved in making the videos raises serious questions about whether any federal or state laws were violated.

The Democratic lawmakers also said there are questions about possible coordination between the Center for Medical Progress and members of Congress who knew about the video weeks in advance of its release.

The feud over Planned Parenthood has also spilled over into legislative business, as it has already derailed a bill expanding government fertility services for wounded veterans and could hamper efforts to pass a multi-year highway funding bill.

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