WASHINGTON—The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives called on New Mexico’s Justice Department to review the possible illegal transfer of baby body parts.
Panel chairwoman U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., issued a criminal referral to the New Mexico attorney general for the connection between the University of New Mexico (UNM) and Southwestern Women’s Options (SWWO), an abortion provider located one mile from campus. The panel claims to have evidence that SWWO illegally gifted body parts to UNM for research.
“[T]he panel has discovered that personnel within UNM’s hospital and medical school have aggressively engaged in expanding abortion in New Mexico,” Blackburn said.
The referral calls for the attorney general to take a closer look at the symbiotic relationship between UNM and SWWO—which possibly violates state law.
New Mexico’s Spradling Act bars anatomical gifts of baby remains from an induced abortion. SWWO consent forms given to mothers who abort their babies do not validate the donation of body parts to outside groups, Blackburn said.
UNM refutes the accusation and says it carefully follows both state and federal laws for its research.
“We categorically deny [Blackburn’s] assertions in every respect,” Billy Sparks, a spokesman for UNM, told the Albuquerque Journal. “[The Spradling Act] does not apply to fetuses from pregnancies that may have been terminated at Southwestern Women’s Options.”
Sparks claims UNM has never purchased fetal tissue from abortion providers.
Pro-abortion advocates have pushed back hard against the House panel since it started its investigation last fall. The panel set out to scrutinize fetal tissue research and the links between abortion providers and tissue procurement companies. So far, it’s investigators have made several notable discoveries.
In April, the panel uncovered evidence that StemExpress profited from the sale of baby body parts collected from abortion centers. The panel found StemExpress hired “tissue technicians” to round up body parts at abortion centers, making $10 an hour plus a commission for each part. The panel also saved screen grabs of the StemExpress website, which allowed customers to purchase individual body parts at whatever gestational period they choose. Republicans called it the “Amazon.com” of baby body parts.
Democrats rejected the evidence and accused Republicans of falsifying documents.
The panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, has called the investigation a partisan witch hunt and said the panel should be disbanded. She wrote a letter in May and then another one earlier this month to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., accusing the panel of getting in the way of valuable medical research using fetal tissue.
“The panel Republicans’ anti-science agenda is putting life-saving research at risk,” Schakowsky said. “Congress should support, not threaten, research that advances our understanding of fetal and human development and brings us closer to treating and curing diseases.”
Ryan responded this week with a letter of his own, applauding the panel for doing good work and vowing it isn’t going away anytime soon.
“The value of human life is so precious that we must closely examine whether current public policy protects it,” Ryan said. “I support the panel in completing its work.”
— by Evan Wilt | WNS