New legislation introduced by Republican Florida Rep. Scott Franklin zeroes in on allegations that abortion providers are profiting from the sale of fetal remains.
The Prohibiting Abortion Industry’s Lucrative Loopholes Act, first obtained by The Daily Wire, prohibits payments, reimbursements, gifts, or compensation of fetal tissue by closing the “valuable consideration” loophole in current law and punishing violators with fines or up to ten years in prison.
“Abortion providers should never be allowed to profit off the death of innocent victims,” Franklin told The Daily Wire. “The fact that they can exploit a loophole in the law to do so is a terrible congressional oversight that should have been addressed years ago.”
Though Congress outlawed the for-profit sale of fetal remains in 1993, organizations like the Planned Parenthood Federation of America have publicly acknowledged payments for fetal tissue but explain them away by claiming they were only reimbursed for costs.
Planned Parenthood has subsequently said it would no longer accept even reimbursement for fetal remains when Center for Medical Progress (CMP) President David Daleiden, a pro-life activist, secretly recorded and published videos of Planned Parenthood employees in 2013 and 2014 purportedly discussing the sale of fetal body parts.
Though Planned Parenthood sued both Daleiden and the CMP in March 2016, saying the videos were deceptively edited, the footage has had a lasting impact on pro-life legislation and rhetoric and prompted scrutiny of Planned Parenthood by authorities and lawmakers.
The Public Health Service Act currently states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”
The act also states that it is unlawful for anyone to “solicit or knowingly acquire, receive, or accept a donation of human fetal tissue for the purpose of transplantation of such tissue into another person” if the “person who solicits or knowingly acquires, receives, or accepts the donation has provided valuable consideration for the costs associated with such abortion.”
Franklin’s legislation proposes redefining “valuable consideration” to include “any payment made or debt incurred,” “any gift, honorarium, or recognition of value bestowed,” “any price, charge, or fee which is waived, forgiven, reduced, or indefinitely delayed,” “any loan or debt which is canceled or otherwise forgiven,” “the transfer of any item from one person to another or provision of any service or granting of any opportunity for which a charge is customarily made, without charge or for a reduced charge,” “and any payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.’’
The legislation is supported by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List and co-sponsored by a slew of Republicans, including Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Alex Mooney of West Virginia, Ben Cline of Virginia, Brian Mast of Florida, Jim Banks of Indiana, Jody Nice of Georgia, and Andy Biggs of Arizona.
In December 2016, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred multiple Planned Parenthood affiliates and companies to the FBI and the Department of Justice for investigation and possible prosecution.
“I don’t take lightly making a criminal referral,” Grassley said at the time. “But, the seeming disregard for the law by these entities has been fueled by decades of utter failure by the Justice Department to enforce it.”
“And, unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue,” he added.