A prominent southwest university’s medical school could face a criminal probe after it was revealed that students dissected aborted fetal brains and other body parts at a summer camp.
The University of New Mexico was accused of illegally transferring fetal tissue by the House Select Panel of Infant Lives in a recent letter to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
“Documentation obtained by the panel in the course of its investigation reflects that the transfer of fetal tissue from SWWO to UNM for research purposes is a direct violation of New Mexico’s Jonathan Spradling Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act,” wrote Panel Chair Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn charged the school broke state laws governing the use of aborted fetal tissue it received from Southwestern Women’s Options, which provides late-term abortions. Published reports said the tissue was used for research and even dissected at what has been described as summer camps in 2012 and 2014.
The House panel was organized in October 2015 in the wake of the controversial Planned Parenthood videos depicting the sale of aborted fetal tissue.
Blackburn told Balderas that university officials trained new abortion doctors, referred women to outside abortion clinics, sent UNM faculty and residents to an abortion clinic during transition between owners, extended “voluntary faculty” status to local abortionists, supplied residents and fellows to perform abortions for SWWO, and put pressure on employees and students for political support, all in violation of state law..
Blackburn’s letter was accompanied by a scathing 291-page report outlining the relationship between UNM and SWWO and the use and advocacy of aborted tissues for research.
“Today, UNM Hospital performs surgical abortions for any reason through 25 weeks gestation,” said the report. “Since the time when opposition to participating in abortion procedures was the predominant view of UNM medical staff, the culture appears to have changed—along with the composition of UNM hospital and clinic personnel—to one aggressively in favor of the expansion of abortion.”
UNM officials admitted that the tissues were used for research purposes.
Outrage emerged when the Albuquerque Journal reported that in 2012 and 2014, the university held a summer program where aborted fetal brains were dissected.
“This was the tipping point of the depravity and lack of respect for human life,” said Elisa Martinez, founder and executive director of the New Mexico Alliance for Life.
In a videotaped interview Paul Roth, M.D., dean for the UNM School of Medicine admitted dissections were conducted but would not elaborate.
“We had a faculty member, who in fact, obtained some tissue and, during one of these summer workshops dissected, I think one or two fetal brains,” said Roth.
The House received disturbing documentation in regards to the summer camp.
The custom ordering of brains for "summer camp students" is taken from UNM Health Sciences Centers, "Procurement Notes" notebook, in which an unnamed university staffer wrote:
"Asked clinic for digoxin treated tissue 24-28 wks. for methylation study & because [name redacted] wants whole, fixed brains to dissect w/ summer camp students."
The school has not elaborated on the notes or the ages of camp participants.
“The fashion in which the nameless UNMHSC employee custom orders baby's brains from Boyd's abortion clinic is shocking and disgusting-- but worse, the UNMHSC employee order babies' brains to dissect with summer camp students, which is admitted by UNM HSC chief administrator in the video obtained by New Mexico Alliance for Life,” said Martinez.
Frank Scaturro, special counsel for the U.S. House Select Panel on Infant Lives, said he would hope New Mexico takes the recommendation seriously.
“I would think if it would come from a legislative body I would think it would carry weight,” says Scaturro.
A spokesman for Balderas confirm receipt of the criminal referral.
"I can confirm the Office of the Attorney General has received a public referral and this matter is under review,” said James Hallinan. “All complaints received by the Office of the Attorney General are fully reviewed and appropriate action is taken."