U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today joined a bipartisan group of 49 fellow senators in sending a letter, led by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell following the release of footage by the Center for Medical Progress depicting senior 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.”
Full text of the senators’ letter can be found here.
The complete list of senators who signed the letter include U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).