DENVER – Thirty state lawmakers – all Republicans – sent a letter to state health officials Wednesday calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood in Colorado.
The letter stems from controversy that the abortion provider is allegedly trafficking fetal body parts, though Planned Parenthood says the opposition is politically motivated without justifiable evidence that any illegal activity occurred. Several other state-led reviews have been unable to document evidence of wrongdoing.
The letter from elected Colorado Republicans assumes that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was involved in transferring and selling fetal body parts, calling it “barbaric” and “unethical.”
“Regardless of any personal views of legalized abortion, a civilized society cannot allow unethical and illegal medical practices such as the harvesting of aborted human organs and babies for monetary gain,” states the letter to Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The news comes as Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, said the state will not join 10 other states in investigating Planned Parenthood. Coffman’s reasons were based more in law, suggesting that her office does not have the authority to launch such an investigation. Instead, the jurisdiction rests with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
A spokesman for the health department did not return a request for comment Thursday about whether it would launch an investigation. But previous reports have suggested that the department is not planning a review.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Colorado said it does not currently participate in a fetal-tissue donation program. Donations are legal with the consent of the patient. Compensation for costs is allowed, but profit is prohibited under federal law. Colorado State University, which has a fetal-tissue research program, said the program is legally sanctioned. Universities and research facilities accept fetal-tissue donations, but Planned Parenthood in Colorado does not currently contract with any of them.
The controversy came to light when pro-life group Center for Medical Progress released videos that the group says shows Planned Parenthood profiting from fetal-tissue programs.
Planned Parenthood on Thursday said the secretly recorded videos were heavily edited, according to an expert review submitted to Congress. Congressional hearings loom over the debate. The experts reviewed video forensics, production and transcription.
“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” wrote Glenn Simpson, a partner at the research firm Fusion GPS, in a 10-page report submitted to leadership of the House and Senate.
Planned Parenthood in Colorado responded Thursday to the letter from Republican state lawmakers, calling it “partisan political games.”
“Around the country, state attorneys general have either cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing or seen the fraudulent videos for what they are and declined to pursue investigations,” said Vicki Cowart, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “We are pleased that Colorado, like the Planned Parenthood staff who confronted these imposters, has declined to take their bait.”