Gov. Mark Dayton has rejected a request from several dozen lawmakers to investigate whether Planned Parenthood in Minnesota is selling fetal tissue for profit.
Some 65 GOP Senate and House members signed a letter to Dayton requesting a probe to "make sure this abhorrent and illegal practice is not occurring in Minnesota," according to the Senate Republicans website.
It follows controversy at a national level after an undercover video released by the relatively unknown group Center for Medical Progress claimed to show a Planned Parenthood (PP) employee discussing the sale of tissue – such as organs and other tissue – from aborted fetuses to a biotech company, the Associated Press notes.
Dayton told reporters Tuesday he's confident that Planned Parenthood officials in the state are not doing anything wrong, according to MPR News, and he accused the Republicans of "grandstanding."
"As far as I'm concerned there's no basis for an investigation at taxpayer expense into a private nonprofit organization that has stated they don't engage in those practices here in Minnesota," Dayton said.
Planned Parenthood national officials deny the allegations, saying the company was a fake that tried to induce the employee into selling organs as part of "decade-long harassment" against the organization, AP notes. (Read more about this video in the section below.)
Planned Parenthood is legally allowed to donate fetal tissue for the purpose of research, and does so with the consent of the woman having the abortion. But it is against federal law to buy it or sell it for profit, US News notes.
Nonetheless, the Republican lawmakers want Minnesota to conduct its own investigation while the claims are addressed at a national level, and have asked Dayton to look into:
- Whether Minnesota Planned Parenthood clinics are in violation of statutes banning the buying or selling of "a living human conceptus or nonrenewable organ of the body."
- Whether clinics are carrying out late-term, "partial birth abortions" that leaves organs intact for the purposes of harvesting, which is illegal in the U.S.
- Whether the University of Minnesota, as the state's leading research institution, is involved in the buying of organs harvested from abortions.
You can see a copy of the letter here, with its signatories including House Speaker Kurt Daudt, House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, and Senate Minority Leader David Hann.
A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman tells KSTP that Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota is separately incorporated from the national group, and it doesn’t have a fetal tissue donation program, so there is nothing to investigate.
Planned Parenthood has 18 clinics in Minnesota, two of which – in Rochester and St. Paul – provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood video goes viral, is countered
The YouTube video published by the Center for Medical Progress – which says it is against "any interventions, procedures, and experiments that exploit the unequal legal status of any class of human beings " – shows secretly filmed footage of Planned Parenthood official Deborah Nucatola discussing fetal tissue donations, but the Washington Post says that she does not mention selling it.
She does however describe recouping the costs of donating tissue to biotech firms, which runs between $30 and $100 for shipping and handling.
In a letter to a congressional committee, Planned Parenthood's senior counsel Roger Evans said the fake pharmaceutical company, called "Biomax," discussed sending PP a "procurement agreement" offering $1,600 for a liver and a thymus, according to MSNBC.
He said this was "an astronomical amount compared to the minimal cost-recovery fees that affiliates with tissue donation programs currently recoup."
Planned Parenthood has also said the released video was heavily edited, removing Dr. Nucatola mentioning "ten times" during the conversation that the organization does not sell organs and makes no money off tissue donations, Politico reports.
FOX News reports another video showing a Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of body parts was released by the Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday, and that "many more" are likely to follow.
The TV station notes the White House has said it will not reconsider federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the wake of the allegations.