(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has long said American taxpayers should not be funding Planned Parenthood, and now he's going even further, calling for the U.S. Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of the pro-abortion group:
Cruz told Fox News's "Kelly File" on Wednesday that an undercover videotape showing a senior Planned Parenthood official discussing the price of body parts from aborted babies is "grotesque."
"It highlights the evil of what they are doing," Cruz said.
"You know, two things need to happen. Number one, there needs to be a criminal investigation. There are at least three federal laws that are potentially violated. One, selling the body parts of unborn children for profits. Number two, for any transfer of tissue, there has to be written consent from the mother. And number three, under federal law, you cannot change the method of abortion if you are trying to get tissue. In that tape you see they are discussing different methods to capture (undamaged body parts)."
"And so, I'm calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate if a federal law is violated and I'm calling on state officials in any location where Planned Parenthood exists for state district attorneys, state attorneys general to investigate criminal conduct.
"And I will say in addition that I serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I believe the Judiciary Committee will hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of what they did."
Cruz noted that he chairs one of the Justice subcommittees: "And if the full committee doesn't hold hearings, I intend to hold hearings to get to the bottom of what appear to be barbaric practices being carried out by Planned Parenthood."
Cruz isn't the only one calling for congressional hearings.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told a news conference on Wednesday, "Congress must -- and will -- investigate and put an end to these barbaric practices."
In July 2014, an undercover team from the Center for Medical Progress posed as fetal tissue buyers, meeting at a restaurant with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services.
As Nucatola eats her salad and sips her wine, the video shows her discussing the baby body parts that are in highest demand -- "intact" hearts, livers, lungs. "Some people want lower extremities too, which -- that's simple. I mean, that's easy," she said.
They also discuss the cost -- $30 to 100 per specimen, Nucatola says -- as well as the method of extracting undamaged body parts: "We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver because we know that, so I'm not going to crush that part; I'm going to basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."
Planned Parenthood said Nucatola, who does abortions up to 24 weeks, was discussing the legal, not-for-profit donation of fetal tissue to research firms. She "was speculating on the range of reimbursement that affiliates can receive after patients state they wish to donate tissue after a procedure."
"At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards," Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Ferrero said there's no financial benefit for the patient or for Planned Parenthood. "In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field," his statement said.
In the video, Nucola also says, "This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at — this is a way to offer patients the services they want and do good for the medical community."
The video was released by the Irvine, California-based Center for Medical Progress in collaboration with several national pro-life organizations.