AUSTIN—Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced July 15 that his office would investigate Planned Parenthood for allegedly selling body parts of aborted babies. The announcement came the same day that U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced a similar investigation into the organization and one day after an undercover video was released of a Planned Parenthood executive negotiating the sale of baby parts gained through partial birth abortions performed at its facilities.
The nonprofit medical watchdog group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released the video showing a woman identified as Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior director of medical services, discussing the PPFA fetal parts business with an undercover investigator posing as a potential buyer at a July 25, 2014, lunch meeting.
“The Office of the Attorney General has launched an official investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of a video that details the organization’s calculated slaughter of human babies to maximize the available body parts they plan to sell,” Paxton said in a statement.
“The video offers a glimpse into an organization that knowingly and deliberately destroys human life to further its bottom line.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Paxton’s office as well as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to conduct immediate investigations the same day the video was released.
Goodlatte said the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation would focus on the “inhumane acts” detailed in the video.
“Every human life is sacred and should be protected from the atrocities allegedly undertaken by Planned Parenthood,” Goodlatte said. “The House Judiciary Committee is investigating these horrific acts including ascertaining how Congress might act.
“The prospects of altering an abortion procedure in order to preserve intact the organs of aborted children, including their brains, reminds us yet again of the horrors of late-term abortions, and the need for the Senate to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
In the video, Nucatola explains Planned Parenthood’s supposed baby parts business and discusses in detail the care Planned Parenthood locations take to ensure the delivery of intact body parts of aborted babies.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver,” she said in the transcript posted on the CMP website, “… so I’m not gonna crush that part. I gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
Nucatola noted, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they know where they’re putting their forceps.”
Selling or buying human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, according to Title 42 of the U.S. Code.
Planned Parenthood decried the undercover video, calling the claims outrageous and untrue. In its defense, the organization said it “donates” fetal tissue for scientific research “with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” and that “there is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) also responded to the “grisly practices embraced by Planned Parenthood” in a July 15 statement. Boehner said he asked various “relevant” committees to look into the issue, and he called on President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to “denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also announced that his state will conduct an investigation into Planned Parenthood.
Nucatola, who has served in her Planned Parenthood position since 2009, maintains an office in Los Angeles. The CMP video was obtained through its Human Capital project, a 30-month journalistic investigation documenting Planned Parenthood’s fetal parts business.
–This story was compiled with reporting from Diana Chandler of Baptist Press and statements released by the offices of Ken Paxton, the House Judiciary Committee, House Speaker John Boehner.