Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Calls for Independent Counsel to Investigate Planned Parenthood

August 4, 2015
Press Release

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) recently joined with 54 of his House colleagues to urge the Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the recent undercover footage of senior officials at Planned Parenthood casually discussing the manipulation of abortion techniques and bartering over the price of harvested organs. In 2007, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed on to a Supreme Court amicus brief in support of Planned Parenthood.

“The recent undercover videos make it clear: it’s time for Planned Parenthood to shut its doors,” Rep. Olson said. “Ms. Lynch’s previous support of Planned Parenthood in front of the Supreme Court makes it impossible for her to conduct a fair, unbiased investigation of Planned Parenthood’s actions. Americans need truth and transparency to stop Planned Parenthood’s blatant disrespect of human life. I urge the Justice Department to appoint an independent counsel.”


Media Contact: Melissa Kelly
(202) 225-5951

Text of the letter:

The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530


Dear Attorney General Lynch,

In recent weeks, three videos were released, with additional videos likely, that detail gruesome abortion practices taking place at Planned Parenthood.  They include details of modifying abortion techniques in order to preserve certain parts of a baby’s body. It is difficult to pick a topic within the videos that is the most disturbing, but the conversation of payment per fetal tissue certainly rivals the other seemingly criminal activity discussed. We urge you to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the potentially criminal activities highlighted in the videos, as well as any other apparent unlawful actions undertaken by Planned Parenthood and any other entities involved.

                The contents of the videos raise questions as to whether Planned Parenthood is, at the very least, violating Sections 498A and 498B of the Public Health Service Act.[1] Section 498A allows human fetal tissue to be used for research purposes. However, this tissue may only be used if the woman involved in the abortion gives written consent. The doctor performing the abortion must also give a written statement that the woman consented, there was no alteration in the abortion method used, and the abortion did not violate state law. In the second video released, Dr. Mary Gatter, President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors’ Council, discusses a “less crunchy technique” used for keeping body parts intact during partial birth abortions, which would be a blatant violation of this section. Thankfully, this section requires these statements be made available for audit, so we are confident that obtaining these documents will be expeditious.

                Section 498B makes it unlawful for anyone to “knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” Valuable consideration under this section “does not include reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage.” Dr. Gatter claims the price per tissue “has to be big enough that it’s worthwhile for [her],” and that she doesn’t want to “lowball.” These statements do not lead us to believe that payments are used for research costs. Violation of this section could lead to a fine and up to ten years in prison.

After receiving a letter requesting an investigation into the group that filmed these disturbing conversations[2], you responded at a recent press conference that you are “… aware of those matters generally from the media, and from some inquiries that have been made to the Department of Justice, and again at this point we’re going to review all the information and determine what steps, if any, to take at the appropriate time.” Before determining these steps, we believe an independent counsel should be appointed to investigate the criminal actions of Planned Parenthood. During the 2007 United States Supreme Court case of Gonzales v. Carhart, you signed onto a brief supporting Planned Parenthood’s opposition to a partial birth abortion ban. Regrettably, because of this support, there is a justifiable public perception that you cannot conduct an impartial investigation of Planned Parenthood.

Consequently, we request you appoint an independent counsel to conduct a transparent and impartial investigation of the potential criminal activity of Planned Parenthood and any other entities involved.



[1] 42 U.S. Code §289g-1 to -2

[2] Letter from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, et al. to The Honorable Loretta Lynch and The Honorable Kamala Harris. 21 July 2015.