WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – The U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives on Sept. 21 approved a report recommending StemExpress – a fetal tissue procurement company that receives "samples" from Planned Parenthood – be held in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with "lawfully issued subpoenas."
Only the eight Republican members of the committee approved the report and the subsequent recommendation of contempt for the company, which claims to be involved in "regenerative" research.
"Nearly one year ago our Panel was established and given the important task of investigating very disturbing allegations that some abortion clinics and middleman procurement organizations, including StemExpresss, were violating federal law by profiting from the sale of human fetal tissue. In order to determine if these entities were in violation of federal law or if the relevant statute needs to be updated, our Panel must review all accounting and banking records," a statement from the Republican members of the committee said.
"Nine months is enough time for an entity to produce accounting documents. It is our hope that by approving this report today, StemExpress and its CEO, Cate Dyer, will begin to take our investigation seriously. It's time for them to turn over the records we need to complete our investigation."
The committee, which reiterated Congress has the power to subpoena and such subpoenas are not "a suggestion," said it was considering the next steps in the process of congressional hearings.
StemExpress, however, rejected the notion that it had been uncooperative in the investigation. It issued a short statement highlighting its effort to be transparent and cooperative. In fact, company officials claimed it had already offered to testify before the panel.
"[T]his offer was ignored," the statement said.
"Several House and Senate Committees have reviewed our accounting records and closed their investigations. We have provided hundreds of documents to the Select Panel, including accounting records, both voluntarily and in response to subpoenas. All Americans should be concerned that a Congressional panel can use the threat of contempt proceedings to support a narrative that flies in the face of the facts," the statement also claimed.
Democrats, too, expressed contempt for the very threat of contempt.
A statement from the six Democrat committee members said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who leads the committee, did not have the authority to request a contempt charge. They also alleged she had acted illegally by meeting without them. Democrats said Blackburn's move was meant to "harass" and "intimidate."
The Democrats' statement also praised StemExpress for its effort to develop new treatments for diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Zika.
"Chair Blackburn and the Republicans' abusive, dangerous, and unlawful actions need to end. We will fight this abuse of congressional authority every step of the way."
Congress began investigating allegations of the fetal tissue trade after the Center for Medical Progress published a series of videos showing members of Planned Parenthood's senior staff openly discussing the money that could be made on the sale of fetal brains and other organs, left over after an abortion.
Title 42 USC Section 289g-2 makes the sale of any harvested body part a felony.