Well, this might put a crimp in the “nothing to see here” narrative. After a request from Republican Senators spearheaded by Rand Paul, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services has opened an investigation into the procurement and use of fetal tissue by the National Institute of Health, The Hill reported yesterday:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (IG) will investigate federal oversight of fetal tissue research in the wake of controversial undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood. …
The IG said it plans to review the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) grants for fetal tissue research and its monitoring to make sure that no laws are being broken. It also plans to review the small amount of fetal tissue research that the NIH conducts itself.
“Our goal is to obtain information related to fetal tissue research grants, NIH’s monitoring procedures over third-party certifications and those related to the Department’s internal fetal tissue research, and any known violations of Federal requirements,” HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote in the letter to Paul.
The IG said it plans to interview HHS and NIH officials and gather documents related to federal oversight of fetal tissue research.
Bear in mind that this probe won’t directly impact Planned Parenthood — but it may come close. The abortion-mill chain did not directly supply NIH with fetal tissue. Instead, they sold it to Advanced Bioscience Resources of Alameda, California, which then supplied it to NIH. ABR was one of the subjects in this CMP video from September:
The IG’s response letter to Paul carries an oblique reference to their jurisdiction over Planned Parenthood, but frames its probe as within the context of government operations within HHS:
The proper jurisdiction for a government review of potentially illegal actions by Planned Parenthood would be the Department of Justice, not HHS. Does anyone expect to see an IG probe from the DoJ? I imagine they’ll get to that right after their timely prosecution relating to Hillary Clinton’s secret e-mail server and the illegal transmission and retention of classified information. Feel free to hold your breath. If the HHS IG finds that NIH ended up with sold-for-profit tissue from ABR, though, it might make that stonewalling somewhat more difficult, and make pretending that nothing untoward happened in this industry all but impossible.
That doesn’t mean that this is no big deal, though. The IG could have politely declined the request from the Senate to look into this at all. The fact that they’ve opened up a probe tells us that this issue has struck a nerve at the very least, and that there is considerable public pressure to put an end to the trafficking of body parts from aborted babies within the public sector. The videos from the Center for Medical Progress pulled the veil off a very sordid practice, and it horrified many of those who would normally support abortion. It might even mean that the IG has already seen issues that require investigation, but even at the minimum it means that those videos and the outcry over them have made a significant impact.