Yesterday the dangerous House Select Panel investigating abortion providers recommended to the attorney general of Texas that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast be investigated for criminally selling fetal tissue.
The House Select Panel was formed over a year ago to investigate the fraudulent allegations made in the now widely discredited video series released by the so-called Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which falsely accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue.
Texas officials looked into these allegations almost a year ago. In January, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas that was formed to investigate Planned Parenthood over those exact accusations ended up clearing the organization of any wrongdoing, opting instead to criminally indict David Daleiden, director of CMP, for tampering with a governmental record and for purchasing human organs. Those charges against Daleiden and one of his associates were later dropped.
Daleiden is the person who first revealed this new referral yesterday on his blog, an hour before it was announced publicly by the Panel or any of its members. This once again calls into suspicion the potentially close ties between CMP and the House Select Panel chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
CMP has actively fought releasing the names of any individuals associated with the anti-abortion group, claiming it would be a violation of their First Amendment right to associational privacy. Their reluctance to transparency has raised questions about who is funding the organization and who was receiving reports on their progress.
An hour after the referral was first blogged by Daleiden, Panel member Rep. Mia Love took to the House floor to request an additional $800,000 to continue the investigation into abortion providers and fetal tissue researchers, citing the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast referral as evidence of the Panel’s progress. Republicans on the Panel are seeking to nearly double their budget from $790,000 to $1.59 million to continue their investigation.
13 state and 3 congressional investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, and the Panel has directed its focus to abortion providers unaffiliated with the organization, part of what many Democrats are referring to the investigation as a “McCarthyesque witch hunt.”
The rate of violence against abortion providers and medical researchers has increased, and the people who have found themselves subpoenaed by the Panel have become prime targets for extremists. Two weeks ago a Colorado physician who had been needlessly subpoenaed by the Panel wrote a scathing letter denouncing Rep. Blackburn’s attempt to force him to release his patients’ medical records, stating, “Your ‘investigation’ is legislative harassment that endangers our lives. The blood of any of us who are assassinated is on your hands.”
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.