Today Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky delivered a speech on the floor of the House denouncing the dangerous Select Investigative Panel that has been spending taxpayer dollars investigating the bogus allegations made by the so-called Center for Medical Progress (CMP) against abortion providers.
Congresswoman Schakowsky said, “Over the past year, Select Panel Republicans have abused congressional authority to harass, intimidate, and bully doctors and researchers—with the ultimate goal of driving companies away from fetal tissue work and ending life-saving research.”
Her remarks came in the wake of last week’s vote by Republican members of the Panel to recommend that StemExpress, a small biomedical company, be held in criminal contempt of Congress for not handing over a complete list of employee names.
Democrats refused to take part in a vote that they called a “McCarthyesque witch hunt” and warned that the Panel’s hunt for names could threaten the lives of those individuals, as the CEO of StemExpress has already received death threats since the investigation began. In April, a Washington man plead guilty in federal court to threatening the lives of StemExpress employees and encouraging others to kill them.
Some research labs have shut down due to the physical safety concerns of their staff who are now being threatened by anti-abortion extremists.
Rep. Schakowsky continued, “Last Monday, Chair Blackburn released the name of a health care provider who was privately interviewed by the Panel. This doctor has already been the target of harassment and threats and repeatedly asked the Panel to safeguard her identity. Just last week, her counsel informed Chair Blackburn that her university had to increase security as a result of a prior leak of information by Panel Republicans. Even knowing this, they released her name.”
In addition, Rep. Schakowsky recounted numerous letters she’d received from researchers across the country who have had to suspend their research into life-saving cures due to a number of problems caused by the Panel, including a shortage of fetal tissue donations. Clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies on neurological conditions such as Alzhemier’s disease have been delayed because of the controversy stirred up by the Panel.
Rep. Schakowsky concluded, “This has gone on long enough. We are elected officials. It is our opportunity and responsibility to make things better for the people we serve. That privilege—and the power that accompanies it—should not be abused. The Panel should be brought to an immediate end.”
The fraudulent video series and subsequent investigations have led to a dramatic increase in threats and violence against abortion providers, scientific researchers, and biomedical professionals. Since last year the Feminist Majority Foundation has been calling on the Panel to either redirect its focus to violence against abortion providers or disband. Take action here.