WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The House Select Panel on Infant Lives has voted to hold StemExpress in contempt of Congress for stonewalling its investigation into the harvesting and sale of aborted babies’ body parts.
The vote took place this afternoon on an 8-0, party line vote. After multiple attempts to scuttle or delay the vote with procedural motions, the panel’s six Democrats refused to take part in the final vote.
After a series of undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress exposed Planned Parenthood’s “fetal tissue donation” program last year, the House of Representatives established a special panel to investigate whether their actions violated federal laws against selling human organs. Federal law – specifically, Title 42 USC Section 289g-2 – makes selling human fetal tissue a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of $500,000, or both.
Planned Parenthood’s most conspicuous partner was StemExpress, a California-based biological company. A StemExpress brochure given to abortion providers promises to furnish “financial profits” and “a financial benefit to your clinic.”
“We lose money doing this,” the company’s CEO, Cate Dyer, told The Washington Post in May.
The House Select panel demanded a full accounting of the company’s finances, its partners, the names of key individuals who oversee its fiscal contracts, and bank records. After an initial inquiry last December, the panel then issued two subpoenas.
“Citing non-disclosure agreements, StemExpress did not provide the names of its non-public customers, or the detailed organization chart, or the accounting and banking records,” said Chair Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. “The panel is entitled to this information so we can answer the question that is raised by the statute: Did companies improperly profit?”
The company tried to shield itself from scrutiny by saying the requested information could lead to the murders of its employees.
StemExpress’ attorney Frank Radoslovich, who calls himself a “street fighter,” said revealing those names would “further endanger employees” from “whoever consumes that information in an evil way.” However, Rep. Blackburn said StemExpress continued stonewalling even after the committee promised to redact the names.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-WI, also noted that other biologics companies have complied with the panel's requests without incident, unlike StemExpress. “What’s in their records that is so secretive that they won’t comply with a Congressional, lawful subpoena?” he asked.
“StemExpress offered to testify before the select panel, but this offer was ignored,” a spokesperson told The Daily Signal.
Blackburn said that today’s contempt motion would drive home the fact that “a subpoena is not a suggestion. It is a lawful order and must be complied with.”
The vote took place despite the fact that a top Democrat tried to quash the hearing from taking place. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey insisted that the Energy and Commerce Commitee’s Republican Chairman, Fred Upton, “immediately intervene” to stop the contempt motion, saying the panel “lacks independent contempt or legislative making authority.” The panel's Democratic minority then tried to end the hearing multiple times before storming out.
Several Democrats said the national backlash created by the videos, and the congressional investigation, had decreased the number of people willing to be involved in “health care and life-saving research” involving the harvesting of fetal organs.
“Tissue donations have slowed considerably since the witch hunt began against Planned Parenthood,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-WA.