Values

Rep. Marsha Blackburn: Congress and the urgent need to protect infant lives

FILE -- Jan. 22, 2015: Anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Supreme Court in Washington, during the annual March for Life.

FILE -- Jan. 22, 2015: Anti-abortion demonstrators march past the Supreme Court in Washington, during the annual March for Life.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Every year since 1973, pro-life advocates have come together in their communities all across the country, including here in our nation’s capital, to peacefully demonstrate and stand united in the effort to protect the sanctity of life.

Friday’s March For Life will be especially meaningful and powerful after a painful year of shedding light on the atrocities being committed in the abortion industry against women and unborn babies who are incapable of protecting themselves.  

The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which I was honored to Chair, was established in the House in 2015 after undercover videos appeared to reveal that a market had been created to sell baby body parts.

The public was appropriately outraged about the videos and my Republican colleagues and I were not only eager to get to work, but we were determined to get answers for the American people.

We knew it would be an emotionally-tiring investigation but no one. however, could have imagined just how hardened the abortion industry in our country had become.

The yearlong investigation was governed by four categories of federal and state laws:

1. Laws protecting human research subjects and patient privacy; 2  Laws regulating anatomical gifts for transplantation, therapy, research, and education.

3. Laws protecting late-term and born-alive infants.

4. Laws pertaining to public funding for fetal tissue research and abortion providers.

The Panel held two public hearings to examine critical issues within its jurisdiction.

The first hearing on Bioethics and Fetal Tissue revealed substantial concern about the consent process for the donation of human fetal tissue used by abortion clinics and tissue procurement businesses (TPBs). 

The Panel’s second hearing, The Pricing of Fetal Tissue, sought the judgment of seasoned federal prosecutors to compare the federal statute prohibiting profit from fetal tissue sales with the first tranche of materials from the investigation. Two former U.S. attorneys and a senior federal litigator agreed that based on the materials presented to them, they would open a case against a tissue procurement business.

We made 15 criminal referrals based on evidence uncovered during the course of our investigation. Referrals included late term abortionists, abortion clinics, and tissue procurement businesses.

We also detailed the activities of 5 “middleman” tissue procurement businesses. Tissue procurement companies like StemExpress saw an opportunity to market their services to Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics and even the entire Federation.

This move was welcomed by top Planned Parenthood executives, some of whom were remarkably candid about the revenue possibilities for clinics. However, the relationships that have formed between tissue procurement companies, abortion clinics, and universities are fraught with questionable practices, including the possible use of illegal, late-term abortion practices to procure fetal tissues and organs, violations of federal laws and regulations on patient consent, and systematic violations of patients’ HIPAA rights. 

Planned Parenthood claims it made no profit; however, it refused to provide actual documents supporting their claim.  The Panel resorted to analyzing accounting documents from middlemen companies who contracted with Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Our panel made the following recommendations in our final report, released earlier this month: 

1. Congress must take numerous actions to provide direct protections for women and infant.

2. Congress must take actions to ensure good stewardship of taxpayer funds.

3. Congress  must take actions to improve biomedical research.  These are common-sense solutions that Americans should welcome, and it is my hope that these changes be enacted to protect the precious women and unborn children in our country. 

Every single day, but especially now just ahead of this year’s March For Life, it is imperative that we remember that all life is created equal. Life is a natural right; it is a gift from God.  

As a woman, a mother and a grandmother, I personally believe women deserve better and I’m truly hopeful that our work produces the much needed change.  

The tireless work being by the pro-life community truly cannot be overstated. 

Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee. She serves as vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Chair of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant  Lives. She was named the 2016 “Woman of the Year” by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.