Republican leaders of a key House committee have demanded an in-person briefing from the Planned Parenthood doctor at the center of this week’s firestorm over the group’s use of organs from aborted fetuses.
Fifteen GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter Friday requesting a meeting with the group’s chief medical director, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, who was secretly recorded detailing the preservation of fetal organs for medical research in a video that went viral this week.
The letter was sent the same day the House Judiciary Committee urged the Department of Justice to open an investigation "swiftly" into Planned Parenthood.
In the footage, Nucatola discusses the methods for and costs of preserving fetal lungs, livers and “intact” hearts, which Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said may suggest a violation of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, released a video statement apologizing for the executive’s “tone and statements” in the video Thursday. A representative for the group said Nucatola has been “reprimanded” but declined to say whether she remains in her current position.
Richards also underscored that any fetal tissue donated by Planned Parenthood is only done so with permission from the woman who had the abortion and never for profit.
In the meeting, which they would like to occur before August, Nucatola will be expected “to explain specifically the context and meaning of her statements on the video,” according to a letter released Friday by a half-dozen of the committee’s Republicans.
She will also be asked to “provide information so that we may better understand your organization’s practices and standards relating to the collection and sale of fetal tissue,” the letter says.
No Democrats signed the letter.
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.), one of the committee’s top Democrats and co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, declined to say whether she supported the investigation when asked by The Hill on Thursday.
“I can't really comment on this particular investigation, although this is not the first time that Energy and Commerce has issued like this, and nothing ever happened,” she said.
“It seems to me that there is an unfair focus on Planned Parenthood continually,” she said.