WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) led a bipartisan group of 49 of her fellow senators today in a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell following the release of footage by the Center for Medical Progress depicting senior Planned Parenthood Federation of America executives discussing in gruesome detail the organization’s role in the harvesting of the organs of unborn babies. In the letter, the senators draw attention to the legal, ethical, and policy issues raised by the footage and call on HHS Secretary Burwell to cooperate with ongoing and future investigations into these questions. 

The footage raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions,” the senators wrote. “In addition to questions about Planned Parenthood’s compliance with applicable federal law and medical ethics, we believe the footage prompts important policy questions surrounding the issue of abortions permitted so late in a pregnancy – sometimes even later than 5 months – that an unborn baby’s organs can be identified and harvested.”  

The senators also requested that the Secretary confirm the commencement or immediate initiation of “a thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood – one of the Department’s grantees – with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements.”

Senator Joni Ernst also added in a statement, “This footage is morally reprehensible, vile, and raises a number of questions that taxpayers deserve answers to. Today, my colleagues and I are calling on HHS to cooperate with all current and future investigations into these shocking allegations. As a defender of life, I remain committed to getting these answers because protecting our most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.” 

The full text of the senators’ letter can be found here.

The complete list of the 50 senators who signed the letter is as follows: 

Senator Lamar Alexander

Senator Kelly Ayotte 

Senator John Barrasso 

Senator Roy Blunt 

Senator John Boozman 

Senator Richard Burr 

Senator Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Bill Cassidy 

Senator Dan Coats 

Senator Thad Cochran

Senator Bob Corker

Senator John Cornyn 

Senator Tom Cotton 

Senator Mike Crapo 

Senator Ted Cruz 

Senator Steve Daines 

Senator Mike Enzi 

Senator Joni Ernst

Senator Deb Fischer

Senator Jeff Flake 

Senator Cory Gardner

Senator Lindsey Graham 

Senator Orrin Hatch 

Senator John Hoeven 

Senator Jim Inhofe 

Senator Johnny Isakson

Senator Ron Johnson 

Senator James Lankford 

Senator Mike Lee 

Senator Joe Manchin

Senator John McCain 

Senator Mitch McConnell 

Senator Jerry Moran 

Senator Rand Paul 

Senator David Perdue 

Senator Rob Portman

Senator James Risch 

Senator Pat Roberts 

Senator Mike Rounds 

Senator Marco Rubio 

Senator Ben Sasse 

Senator Tim Scott 

Senator Jeff Sessions

Senator Richard Shelby 

Senator Dan Sullivan

Senator John Thune 

Senator Thom Tillis 

Senator Pat Toomey

Senator David Vitter 

Senator Roger Wicker  

# # #