Midway through a year-long investigation into the fetal tissue industry, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives said abortion providers and fetal procurement companies are still stonewalling.
“Instead of helping us shine light, they’re trying to pull the curtain and hide what’s actually happening,” said Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., a panel member. “The industry, I would argue, has been less than cooperative, and I think we have to ask ourselves, why?”
On July 14, the congressional panel released an 88-page report summarizing what it has found thus far but said much remains unknown. The panel has issued dozens of requests to access financial records of fetal procurement companies, but many have not complied. Panel Chairwoman Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said the investigation has the full support of House leaders and will work to overturn as many stones as possible before submitting its final report to Congress on Dec. 31.
According to the report, 34 different entities have not fully complied with the panel’s requests for documents, including fetal tissue retailers StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources, several Planned Parenthood affiliates, and university research centers.
Blackburn said some have evaded document requests by using memoranda from Democrats on the panel.
The investigation found evidence of middlemen businesses, such as StemExpress, working with abortion centers to match online orders for baby body parts – making profits of up to 400 percent for each sale. Companies send tissue technicians to abortion centers to give women consent forms to harvest their babies’ organs, making a commission for each sale. The forms falsely claim fetal tissue has been instrumental in finding cures for diseases such as diabetes and AIDS.
The panel also is looking into alleged violations of HIPAA privacy rules, which protect individual health records from businesses without a patient’s consent. StemExpress technicians were able to match women’s pregnancy gestational periods with its online orders, leading the panel to believe it had access to private medical records.
Under U.S. law, profiting from the sale of fetal tissue is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“Throughout our oversight efforts, one thing has been clear: Today’s big industry too often puts profits before patients and convenience before ethics and the rule of law,” said panel member Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. “Today I am more certain than ever of the need for our panel’s work, and moving forward we will continue with this fact-finding effort with a mission to protect women, babies, and the American taxpayer.”
The House of Representatives commissioned the panel last fall to conduct a one-year investigation into the fetal tissue industry in the wake of undercover videos released by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The first CMP video debuted one-year ago today, showing Planned Parenthood workers describing how they alter abortion procedures to keep baby organs intact for sale.
Daleiden and other CMP investigators found themselves in hot water shortly after the videos made waves. The pro-life activist had a misdemeanor charge levied against him for attempting to purchase fetal remains while shooting the undercover videos.
One month ago, a Houston judge dropped that charge against Daleiden. But he and fellow CMP investigator Sandra Merritt still face an indictment for presenting false driver’s licenses while seeking access to a Houston Planned Parenthood facility. Tampering with government documentation is a second-degree felony. A hearing on the charge against Daleiden and Merritt is set for July 26 in Harris County District Court.
Although prosecutors have filed charges against the pro-life investigators, instead of the abortion giant, Daleiden maintains Planned Parenthood is guilty of selling baby body parts for profit.
“As more details and evidence continue to emerge in the ongoing investigation of Planned Parenthood’s aborted baby parts business, it’s clear Planned Parenthood is guilty of far more wrongdoing in their fetal harvesting scheme than anyone initially realized,” Daleiden said in a statement July 14. “Planned Parenthood is not above the law and must be held accountable for their callous and careless treatment of vulnerable patients and their barbaric profiteering on baby body parts.”