Grassley, Ernst press for answers on Planned Parenthood oversight

Planned Parenthood LogoFrom Press Release


hairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote Monday to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell, insisting on answers to the department’s enforcement and oversight policies and procedures governing the research, transfer and sale of human fetal tissue.  This letter is in response to a previous request made by the committees to HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea, to which they received inadequate responses.

The senators wrote:

On August 14, 2015, HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea sent nearly identical letters in response to separate inquiries from Chairmen Johnson and Grassley[1] and Senators Ernst and Blunt[2] regarding the fetal tissue harvesting practices of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (Planned Parenthood), an HHS grant recipient.  Mr. Esquea’s response letter not only  inadequately responds to the questions raised in our inquiries, but it also raises additional concerns about the adequacy of the Department’s oversight of HHS grant recipients that engage in activities involving fetal tissue.

Grassley said, “The department’s insufficient response does not help Congress with its constitutional duty of oversight.  The committees need information to adequately assess if the department has ever undertaken any independent efforts to ensure that the laws are being followed, rather than just relying on the word of the entities involved.”

Ernst said, “Over the last several months, numerous videos have showcased Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard for human life and raised a number of moral, legal, and policy questions. My colleagues and I are demanding answers, and our questions to HHS simply cannot be ignored. Form letters that side-step our questions are not acceptable. I will continue to urge HHS to comply with all current and future investigations into this matter, and remain steadfast in my commitment to protect the most vulnerable.”

Full text of the letter is available here.