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Conservative senator seeks DOJ investigation into Planned Parenthood, biomedical companies

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday referred four Planned Parenthood affiliates and three biomedical companies to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal investigation, Rewire reports.

DOJ did not immediately respond to an inquiry over whether it plans to respond to Grassley's request before President Obama's term ends.

Senate report details

Conservative lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a staff report accompanying the referrals for investigation. In the report, conservative lawmakers cite misleading videos released last year by abortion-rights opponents as the "impetus" to the investigation. However, the report claims that its conclusions do not "rely" on the videos.

A spokesperson for Grassley also distanced conservative lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee from a separate House subcommittee created following the release of the videos. However, according to Rewire, the Senate report still echoes many of the claims alleged by the House subcommittee (Grimaldi, Rewire, 12/14).

The House subcommittee is allowed to probe, among other topics, federal funding for health care providers who also provide abortion services and providers' practices for abortions later in pregnancy. The subcommittee has issued several subpoenas requesting the names of fetal tissue researchers, spurring criticism from medical groups and liberal lawmakers who are concerned that the subpoenas could put researchers, students and medical professionals at risk of antiabortion-rights violence.

Earlier this month, liberal lawmakers on the House panel released a report refuting allegations made by conservative members and criticizing how conservative lawmakers have conducted the investigation (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/6).

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lambasted the conservative senators' investigation. "To be clear, the [conservative] Staff Report issued today has never been voted on or adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee as an official report," he said, adding, "It is important to understand these wasteful and ideological inquiries for what they are: a relentless partisan effort to attack and defund a women's health provider that millions of women across this country depend on each year for basic medical services" (Rewire, 12/14).