Law & the Courts

Congress Issues Criminal Referral for Planned Parenthood in Texas

Signs at a pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C., in 2011. (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)
This is the latest in a list of eight criminal referrals made by the House Select Panel on Infant Lives.

About a year and a half ago, a series of horrifying undercover videos emerged online, depicting workers at Planned Parenthood clinics casually discussing the transfer and sale of the body parts of unborn children. Few people seemed to pay attention to the issue after the initial shock of the videos wore off, but one group of U.S. congressmen — the House Select Panel on Infant Lives — is still uncovering evidence, confirming the truth of what was shown in the videos: Planned Parenthood was indeed involved in this illegal activity.

The latest news on their investigation came on Thursday, when Utah congresswoman Mia Love announced on the House floor a list of eight criminal referrals — recommendations that local law enforcement further investigate the groups in question. Among the referrals was one made to the Texas attorney general’s office regarding Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast, after the panel discovered evidence indicating that the group sold body parts of aborted babies to the University of Texas, an activity that is illegal under both Texas and federal law. The investigation is ongoing, and more referrals are expected as the committee continues its work.

The bipartisan select panel was established over a year ago specifically to address the evidence presented in the undercover video campaign of the Center for Medical Progress, which alleged that several Planned Parenthood affiliates were illegally profiting from the sale of the body parts of aborted babies, often with the aid of tissue-procurement organizations (TPOs) such as StemExpress. Despite repeated claims from Planned Parenthood and its allies that the videos were “heavily and deceptively edited,” further examination has shown this argument to be false, and the panel’s investigation has marshaled evidence confirming that the practices shown in the videos do take place.

In fact, the panel released an interim report in mid July on its findings, detailing the methods used by Planned Parenthood and several TPOs to profit from the distribution of fetal tissue. The evidence included the fact that at least one TPO explicitly advertised itself to Planned Parenthood as “financially profitable” and “a financial benefit to your clinic.” The investigation also yielded evidence that these groups violated additional federal laws in the course of this trafficking, including some meant to protect vulnerable women from exploitation.

The criminal referrals Love listed yesterday were made over the course of the past year to state or local authorities in the jurisdictions where the suspected violations occurred, and provided evidence to local officials so that they could determine how best to proceed. In most cases so far, the referrals have resulted in ongoing law-enforcement investigations into the organizations in question. In one case, Orange County has filed a lawsuit against two medical-research companies that allegedly sold the fetal tissue of aborted babies. (These companies had a close affiliation with Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, from which they received the tissue in question.)

#related#Among the other groups that the panel has referred to state law-enforcement agencies for further investigation are the University of New Mexico, for violations of the state’s Anatomical Gift Act; a university in Ohio, for trafficking in fetal body parts; and StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources, for several violations of state and federal laws. And in late September, the panel voted to hold StemExpress in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with repeated requests for documents related to fetal-tissue transfers. The documents in question would likely illuminate the specific figures that were exchanged between the biotech firm and Planned Parenthood — at the moment, it is clear that some funds were exchanged, but they have not yet been itemized, because pertinent documents have been withheld. The subpoena issued to StemExpress now over four months ago is just one of at least 41 subpoenas issued throughout the course of this investigation. Many have yet to be answered.

Democrats and pro-abortion activists will likely continue to cast this investigation as “anti-woman” and “politically motivated,” but with each subsequent announcement from the select panel, the pile of evidence against Planned Parenthood and its affiliated biotech firms becomes that much more difficult to refute.

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