In a bicameral letter this week, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, led 88 Members of Congress calling on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General (IG) Christi Grimm to conduct an immediate audit into whether the University of Pittsburgh violated federal law while conducting fetal tissue research subsidized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The push for a comprehensive IG audit comes after HHS ignored serious concerns raised in previous letters by the Members of Congress who all oppose fetal tissue research. Instead of probing the alarming allegations, the Biden Administration said that the NIH Office of Extramural Research had "been in discussions" with the University of Pittsburgh that resulted in the commissioning of an "independent, third-party firm" whose report could be found publicly posted on the University's website.
"Rather than conduct an independent evaluation of its own, NIH chose to accept and endorse a report that had been paid for by the institution it had been asked to investigate," the lawmakers wrote in the letter led by Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), and Lisa McClain (R-MI) together with Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The flawed report--issued by the DC-based firm Hyman, Phelps and McNamara (HPM) and financed by the University--has been widely criticized for narrowing the scope of the investigation to sidestep key questions about the abortion procedures and the baby-victims.
In their letter to Grimm, the lawmakers reiterated the grave allegations that HHS refused to address, including concerns that University researchers had illegally altered abortion procedures solely for the purpose of obtaining fetal tissue, or derived fetal tissue by organ or tissue harvesting from aborted babies who were born alive and then killed.
"When we raised these concerns with HHS, we received an unacceptable response that failed to substantively address either question," the lawmakers wrote to Grimm. "We ask for your assistance in conducting an audit, consistent with the extent of your jurisdiction, to answer the questions that the Department has failed to answer."
Previously, Reps. Kelly and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, led more than 50 of their House colleagues in calling for transparency and accountability into the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after recent allegations that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center used taxpayer money funneled through the NIH to promote illegal abortions.