Late last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rose to the defense of the embattled Planned Parenthood organization, which is currently caught up in a fetal tissue and organ harvesting scandal following an undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress.
In a letter addressed to Senators Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt, HHS insisted that they know of no breach of the law in the actions taken by Planned Parenthood in its selling of fetal remains. In the letter, Jim Esquea, the HHS’s assistant secretary for legislation, wrote, “We have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements.” Additionally, Mr. Esquea went on to assert, “The use of fetal tissue in medical research has been an instrumental component of our attempts to understand, treat, and cure a number of conditions and diseases that affect millions of Americans.” The letter continues, “In addition, research using cell lines derived from fetal tissue has also played an essential role in the field of vaccine development.”
Federal regulations issued by the Obama Administration have raised concerns that Christian charities operating federally funded care provider facilities housing unaccompanied alien children could be required to facilitate access to abortion.
Government Issues Interim Final Rule
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families, issued the regulations in December 2014 through an “interim final rule” without the ordinary notice of proposed rulemaking and opportunity for public comment on the proposed rule. However, HHS provided a 60-day window, which expired in February, for public comments before finalizing the “interim” final rule.
On Monday, December 22, Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) joined with Family Research Council (FRC) as cosignatories on comments filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) regarding new federal rules from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management on transparency in health insurance coverage of abortion. The comment covers two separate rulemakings, one of which concerns the general use of federal tax subsidies to purchase health insurance plans on the federal and state insurance exchanges, and another which addresses transparency with respect to certain multi-state plans (MSPs) managed by OPM under the Affordable Care Act.
Later this week the federal and state exchanges created under Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, will open for their second year of operation. After last year’s rugged rollout, with extremely expensive web sites that functioned poorly, the Obama Administration has invested millions more in fixing the federal site, healthcare.gov, and is promising better performance. It is far from clear that this improvement will happen, and in the area of abortion coverage nothing is clear at all.