Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood


The Justice Department is opening an investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices and the sale of fetal tissue, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In the letter from the Justice Department's head of its Office of Legislative Affairs, Planned Parenthood is not named explicitly, but Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd requests the Senate Judiciary Committee turn over any unredacted documents related to the December 2016 "Human Fetal Tissue Research" report. The report claims to outline the organization's practices.

"In this letter … we need to seek access to unredacted copies of any of these records in order to further investigate these matters … At this point, the records are intended for investigative use only," Boyd wrote.

The FBI requested the unredacted documents from Planned Parenthood and similar organizations last month.

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Recent Planned Parenthood Protests both for and against
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Recent Planned Parenthood Protests both for and against
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocate Linda Heilman (L) prays during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Right to Life advocates block 4th St. N.E. during a sit-in in front of a proposed Planned Parenthood location while demonstrating the group's opposition to congressional funding of Planned Parenthood on September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Right to Life groups who took part in the protest are also calling on Pope Francis to 'address the pro-life issue and the defunding of Planned Parenthood' when he addresses Congress on September 24. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 16: Protesters hold signs protesting Planned Parenthood in front of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition urged the Republican leadership not to give taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Director of Planned Parenthood of Utah Karrie Galloway speaks during Sex, Politics And Film Hosted By Lena Dunham And Planned Parenthood Action Fund - 2015 Park City at Wahso Asian Grill on January 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley's 2016 report claimed executive branch agencies failed to adequately monitor abortion providers. After receiving 20,000 documents voluntarily from Planned Parenthood and similar organizations, Grassley called on the Justice Department to investigate, CNN reported.

The use of human fetal tissue, which is used to study a variety of diseases, is a contentious topic in the political arena. Planned Parenthood became engulfed in the controversy when videos made by an anti-abortion group surfaced in 2015. The videos allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials negotiating prices for fetal tissues collected from abortions. The sale of fetal organs for profit is a felony.

However, Planned Parenthood said it donates the tissue for scientific research and receives only reimbursement for its expenses, which is legal. It also said the videos are heavily edited and misleading and 13 states that investigated the activist group's claims cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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