WASHINGTON — A panel with the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to hold a “fetal tissue” procurement company that once partnered with the abortion giant Planned Parenthood in contempt of a Congressional subpoena.
“A subpoena is not a suggestion,” said Select Panel on Infant Lives Chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn, according to The Hill. “It is a lawful order and must be complied with.”
Last year, undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress revealed that Planned Parenthood had a working relationship with StemExpress. One video featured a discussion with CEO Cate Dyer, who stated that she would like to obtain “another 50 livers a week.”
“It’s almost like they don’t want to know where it comes from,” she also remarked in regard to the shock some researchers express when they open boxes of baby body parts. “Where they’re like, ‘We need limbs, but no hands and feet need to be attached.’ … Or they want long bones, and they want you to take it all off, like, make it so that we don’t know what it is.”
StemExpress ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood after the footage was released.
The House panel was then formed to investigate Planned Parenthood’s handling of human remains, and in July, it called for an additional investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after reviewing email correspondence between the abortion giant and StemExpress.
Chairman Blackburn outlined that documents showed that customers would place an order for “fetal tissue” using an online portal on the StemExpress website, and then Planned Parenthood representatives would fax a schedule of the next day’s patients to StemExpress. The company would in turn notify the customer if it could fulfill its order that day.
“We have a trisomy patient scheduled for this week and could try to procure a brain sample for you,” read one email. “How is the pancreas forecast today—any possible procurements?”
“StemExpress paid the abortion clinic (Planned Parenthood) a per tissue fee and then marked up the tissue four to six hundred percent for sale to the researcher,” Blackburn outlined.
But StemExpress had allegedly not provided banking and accounting records requested by the panel, which subpoenaed the documents. The company has yet to comply to this day.
Therefore, on Wednesday, the panel voted 8-0 to hold StemExpress in contempt after Democrats walked out.
“Nearly one year ago our panel was established and given the important task of investigating very disturbing allegations that some abortion clinics and middleman procurement organizations, including StemExpress, were violating federal law by profiting from the sale of human fetal tissue,” Blackburn said in a statement.
“In order to determine if these entities were in violation of federal law or if the relevant statute needs to be updated, our panel must review all accounting and banking records,” she explained. “Nine months is enough time for an entity to produce accounting documents.”
“It is our hope that by approving this report today, StemExpress and its CEO, Cate Dyer, will begin to take our investigation seriously. It’s time for them to turn over the records we need to complete our investigation,” Blackburn said.
Democrats argued that the panel didn’t have the authority to hold citizens in contempt and asserted that the vote only served to intimidate medical researchers.
“Today’s markup is an unauthorized, dangerous, and unjustifiable escalation of Chair Blackburn’s partisan attack on healthcare and life-saving research,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.
It will now be decided whether the matter comes before a full committee or the whole of Congress.