The Planned Parenthood Body-Parts Videos Have Now Reached Capitol Hill…

…and an investigation appears forthcoming.

It looks like Sen. Bill Cassidy is going to be one of the prime movers to put the nation’s largest abortion provider under the microscope. Cassidy had this to say after the first video hit the interwebs…

And now Cassidy’s name (along with Sen. David Vitter’s) is among a large list of Senators (we’d say bipartisan, but Joe Manchin is the only Democrat) demanding that HHS investigate Planned Parenthood for potential violations of federal law. From a press release that went out this afternoon…

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and a bipartisan group of 49 fellow senators today in a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell following the release of a video showing Planned Parenthood Federation of America executives discussing in gruesome detail the organization’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies. In the letter, the senators draw attention to the legal, ethical, and policy issues raised by the footage and call on HHS Secretary Burwell to cooperate with ongoing and future investigations into these questions.

“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. “In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy – sometimes even later than 5 months – that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested.”

The senators also requested that the Secretary confirm the commencement or immediate initiation of “a thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood – one of the Department’s grantees – with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements.”

Read the text of the senators’ letter below:

July 22, 2015

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Burwell,

We are deeply disturbed by recent footage released by the Center for Medical Progress depicting senior Planned Parenthood Federation of America executives discussing in graphic detail the organization’s practice of harvesting the organs of unborn babies.

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.

In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy – sometimes even later than 5 months – that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested.

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. To that end, we further expect the immediate preservation of any and all Department electronic and paper records that could have any relevance to any ongoing or forthcoming lawful investigation.

It is our understanding that, to date, you have refrained from commenting on the questions raised by the footage until you can review the matter further. We appreciate your acknowledgement that this matter requires further examination, and upon your receipt of this letter, we request that you confirm in writing that you have either commenced or will immediately initiate a thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood – one of the Department’s grantees – with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements. Please also include a description of the expected scope of the internal review, as well as an estimated completion date.

We look forward to future correspondence on this matter, and we hope that we can count on you as a key partner in our efforts to address the various legal, ethical, and policy concerns raised by the information contained in the footage.

Sincerely,

Senator Lamar Alexander
Senator Kelly Ayotte
Senator John Barrasso
Senator Roy Blunt
Senator John Boozman
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Shelley Moore Capito
Senator Bill Cassidy
Senator Dan Coats
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator Bob Corker
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Tom Cotton
Senator Mike Crapo
Senator Ted Cruz
Senator Steve Daines
Senator Mike Enzi
Senator Joni Ernst
Senator Deb Fischer
Senator Jeff Flake
Senator Cory Gardner
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator John Hoeven
Senator Jim Inhofe
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Ron Johnson
Senator James Lankford
Senator Mike Lee
Senator Joe Manchin
Senator John McCain
Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Jerry Moran
Senator Rand Paul
Senator David Perdue
Senator Rob Portman
Senator James Risch
Senator Pat Roberts
Senator Mike Rounds
Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Ben Sasse
Senator Tim Scott
Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Richard Shelby
Senator Dan Sullivan
Senator John Thune
Senator Thom Tillis
Senator Pat Toomey
Senator David Vitter
Senator Roger Wicker

The chances that Burwell or anybody at the Justice Department will lift a solitary finger to look at Planned Parenthood are nil, we all know that.

But as these videos continue to tumble forth – and we understand there are several more to come – that failure is going to be a major embarrassment for the Obama administration and the Democrat Party. And it might just be that Congress will end up de-funding Planned Parenthood.

Which begs the question of Cassidy, Vitter and the others on that list – what happens when the president vetoes a budget bill because it doesn’t include funding for Planned Parenthood, on top of declining to investigate what look like egregious violations of federal law in those videos? What then?

The only real option is to let the impasse shut down the government, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said is off the table.

This isn’t a shot at Cassidy, of course – he’s doing what he should be doing given these circumstances. But it all comes back to the same thing, doesn’t it? This is an administration that will not comport itself according to its obligations under the law and the constitution, and openly dares Congress to do something about it in the knowledge that largely out of political fear Congress will not challenge that lawlessness in any effective way.

Which means that while the Senators in question are, for now, doing the right thing in raising the issue of an investigation into Planned Parenthood there is nothing the leadership will allow them to do on Capitol Hill to affect the problem in a meaningful way. That’s going to have to be done at the state level – which it looks like Gov. Jindal has an interest in following through on.

One interesting possibility, though, is a RICO lawsuit against Planned Parenthood like the one Larry Klayman filed against the Clinton Foundation back in late May. Vitter and Cassidy might consider participating in such a lawsuit.

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