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House panel refers Planned Parenthood affiliate for criminal prosecution

House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives Chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., presides over the committee’s investigating Planned Parenthood, Wednesday, March 1, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The U.S. House Select Panel on Infant Lives announced Thursday that it was recommending prosecutors investigate a Planned Parenthood affiliate for allegedly trafficking aborted fetal body parts.

The panel, which was formed to investigate allegations raised by videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that Planned Parenthood was selling aborted fetal body parts for profit, has referred Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast to the Texas attorney general for criminal prosecution for allegedly violating both state and federal law. Planned Parenthood has denied illegal conduct.

In a statement following the announcement, David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, said: “The Select Panel is the only official, comprehensive, nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and sale of aborted fetal organs, and their findings confirm the criminal activity at Planned Parenthood that CMP’s videos documented and show that the wrongdoing goes even deeper than anyone first suspected.”

“The Panel has also criminally referred Planned Parenthood’s closest business partners in the sale of aborted baby parts to various state and local law enforcement,” Daleiden added. “Law enforcement and elected representatives at all levels must now act quickly to bring Planned Parenthood to justice under the law and prevent any more taxpayer subsidies from flowing to Planned Parenthood’s barbaric criminal enterprise.”

The House has also authorized additional funding for the select panel to continue its investigation.

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said in a statement, “Our Panel was tasked with investigating areas that, prior to the revelations of undercover journalists, received too little attention,” adding:

For most of us, it is nothing short of an outrage that Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics supplement their budgets by selling human fetal tissue from aborted babies. The House charged members of this Panel with investigating fetal tissue trafficking, second- and third-trimester abortion practices, the standard of care for infants who survive abortions, and the role played by our taxpayer dollars in this sector of society. Over the last year, we have held hearings that explored the bioethics surrounding fetal tissue use and that revealed the sobering reality of how some bad actors seek to profit from the sale of fetal tissue in violation of federal law.

“The work of our Panel is specifically focused on protecting the integrity of research, scientific advancements, and voluntary organ donation in America,” Blackburn continued. “Evidence we have uncovered reveals that the unethical and potentially unlawful practices of some bad actors may be putting important research at risk. Considering all that our Panel has identified, despite having barely a year to conduct this investigation, it is now up to us to build on this work, to hold our government accountable, and to stop these affronts to human dignity.”

In remarks on the House floor, the select panel’s ranking member, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), blasted additional funding for the investigation, which she opposes.

“One of the Republican Congress’ first acts upon returning to Washington was to approve additional funding for the Select Investigative Panel, doubling its budget and putting it on track to spend over $1.5 million of taxpayer funds by the end of this year,” Schakowsky said, referring to the select panel as “the panel that we call the Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health.”

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