Congressional Republicans investigating an illicit market in “baby body parts”—a fabrication of anti-choice activists—have referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general’s office for allegedly profiting from fetal tissue donations.
News of the referral broke Thursday afternoon after David Daleiden, the architect of the deceptively edited Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos upon which the investigation rests, blogged about the referral on the anti-choice front group’s website at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, according to metadata from the webpage.
Daleiden appeared to know about the referral before a member of the so-called Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives disclosed it to the public—par for the course given the allegedly close working relationship between CMP and the panel’s chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
A spokesperson for Blackburn confirmed Daleiden’s report, telling Rewire by phone that the panel referred Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general’s office for allegedly violating both state and federal law with regards to profiting from fetal tissue donations.
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Almost an hour after Daleiden’s post, at 3:24 p.m. Eastern time, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as Republicans railroaded another $800,000 for their $1.59 million investigation to a vote. Love cited Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast among the panel’s eight criminal and regulatory referrals, including previously reported targets, the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options. Other instances of referrals may not have been formerly disclosed and gone unreported.
By Love’s admission, three congressional committee investigations found no basis in CMP’s claims that Planned Parenthood, or other targeted entities, profited from fetal tissue donations. Nor did 13 states and a Texas grand jury. Nevertheless, Love said the referrals stand as “proof of potential criminal activity in the fetal tissue industry” and “justify the existence of the panel and their investigations.”
“The work of the select panel is not over,” she said. “And more referrals are to come.”
Blackburn, a member of President-elect Trump’s transition team, has forged ahead even though the investigation is supposedly nearing an end. She recently demanded information from an abortion provider who, in turn, protested that congressional GOP harassment endangers the lives of women, their families, and health-care workers.
The radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue has called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to extend the investigation into the 115th Congress. Doing so would require the House to vote on a new resolution reestablishing the investigation when the new Congress begins in January 2017.