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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Congress voted to double the budget of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, meaning the panel will continue investigating Planned Parenthood and the sale of aborted baby body parts through 2016.

Republicans and Democrats took to the House floor yesterday to support and bash H. Res 933, which authorized continued funding for the Select Panel. It ultimately passed 234 to 181. 

Prior to the vote, the Panel announced yesterday that it had made nine criminal and regulatory referrals against Planned Parenthood, other abortion businesses, fetal tissue companies, and universities.

The Panel referred Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast, medical research companies StemExpress and DV Biologics for criminal prosecution for illegally profiting from fetal body parts. Also referred to law enforcement were The University of New Mexico, an Arkansas abortion facility, an Ohio university, Advanced Bioscience Resources, and Presidential Women’s Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“What the heck are we being asked to spend another $800,000 on?” asked an indignant Rep. Diana DeGette, D-CO, who co-chairs the House Pro-Choice Caucus. She called it a “witch hunt” and “reckless endeavor.” 

“This is about following the law,” said Rep. Sean Duffy, R-WI. “StemExpress has thumbed its nose against the Select Investigative Panel and obstructed our efforts to bring light to the fetal tissue procurement industry.” 

Duffy noted that StemExpress has not fully complied with subpoenas from the Panel.

Pro-life women also defended the investigation into the fetal tissue industry.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, explained that the Select Panel has “uncovered many valid concerns and potential law violations that are disturbing, horrific, and unacceptable…It is difficult to imagine a more vulnerable time in a woman's life than when she is considering an abortion,” and the abortion and fetal tissue industries take advantage of this.

“Since the Panel’s investigation, we have uncovered alarming revelations about the fetal tissue industry, and because of this, there have been criminal and regulatory referrals. They have resulted in numerous investigations around the nation,” said Rep. Mia Love, R-UT. 

One of the most egregious discoveries the Panel made was that “Stem Express and certain abortion clinics were violating HIPAA privacy rights of vulnerable women for the sole purpose of increasing and harvesting fetal tissue to make money,” said Love. She listed the eight referrals the Select Panel announced it had made yesterday and said to expect more in the future.

“As elected Representatives we are tasked with oversight of our government that enforces our laws,” said Love. “These eight referrals are proof of potential criminal activity in the fetal tissue industry. They justify the existence of the Panel and their investigations. However, the work of the Select Panel is not over…more referrals will come.”

“Our Panel was tasked with investigating areas that, prior to the revelations of undercover journalists, received too little attention. 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,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) of the passage of HR 933. “The work of our Panel is specifically focused on protecting the integrity of research, scientific advancements, and voluntary organ donation in America. 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.”

“Congress spends taxpayer money on frivolous, and possible criminal, organizations, like Planned Parenthood so there is no reason they should have not given the Select Panel the money they requested,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins told LifeSiteNews. “The House deserves credit for continuing the important and life-saving work of the special committee and we are looking forward to seeing what the panel will uncover.”