U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., speaks at a July 15 news conference on Capitol Hill calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. (CNS photo courtesy U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., speaks at a July 15 news conference on Capitol Hill calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. (CNS photo courtesy U.S. House Office of Photography)

After the Center for Medical Progress released a video showing a top Planned Parenthood official discussing the harvest of fetal organs, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have opened an investigation into the possibility of illegal activity by Planned Parenthood.

“This is not what we do in healthcare practice. This is not what we do as a nation. In our hearings, I intend to find out who is involved and to get all the facts before Congress so we can decide where to go next,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R- Pa.), during a press conference July 15 on Capitol Hill.  

In the video, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Services, discussed how abortionists perform the abortion procedure in order to best retrieve the specific organs that buyers need. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going basically crush below,” she said.

She also discussed changing the orientation of the unborn child before delivery, which could violate the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. “Altering the delivery of that child, that would have to be investigated also,” said Rep. Ann Wagner, (R- Mo.). “Partial birth abortion is illegal in this country.”

Planned Parenthood has issued a statement saying that they do donate fetal tissue to medical companies, with the consent of their patients. The amount of money charged per organ, which Dr. Nucatola said was between $30-$100, is used to cover transportation costs, a claim Congress plans to investigate.

“Does it cost $70 more to ship a little baby liver versus a little baby lung? Or is the market driving the cost of these organs?” said Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.). “They might try to hide behind this transportation cost, but really the differential in the cost is market cost for what a lung will bear, what a head will bear, what a heart will bear…”

Rep. Chris Smith, (R-N.J.) noted his hope that the disturbing contents of the video might bolster support for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.

“We know [unborn] children are pain-capable and when a lot of these laws were written, we did not have the body of evidence about the pain-capable aspect of an unborn child, suffering excruciating pain from at least the 20th week on, post fertilization,” he said.

At least two governors, Greg Abbott of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, have ordered investigations of Planned Parenthood.

Father Frank Pavone, the president of Priests for Life, said that the actions of Planned Parenthood violate “the most basic sense of human decency. We call on Congress to investigate this activity and to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood,” he said in a press release.

In 2013 Planned Parenthood received $540.6 million in government grants. “Moreover, we call on the United States Senate to vote on and pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which will protect many of the babies whose bodies are being cut up and sold in this manner," he said.