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GOP Panel Attacking Fetal Tissue Research Subpoenas Prominent Abortion Provider

Christine Grimaldi

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) continues to refer to the discredited Center for Medical Progress videos as the basis for the panel’s investigation and continued subpoenas.

Republicans on the so-called Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives shifted their focus from fetal tissue procurement and research to later abortion care in a new batch of subpoenas released Wednesday.

The U.S. House of Representatives panel issued the subpoenas, dated May 5, to Dr. LeRoy Carhart and the clinic where he works, Operation Rescue target Germantown Reproductive Health Services, which is a member in good standing with the National Abortion Federation and follows the the federation’s evidence-based clinical policy guidelines.

Operation Rescue’s president, Troy Newman, and David Daleiden founded the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the anti-choice front group behind the widely discredited smear campaign alleging that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donations.

Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) continues to refer to the CMP videos as the basis for the panel’s investigation and subpoenas. Media Matters for America reported that the GOP duplicated or nearly duplicated “evidence” in the CMP attack videos, including a doctored screenshot from a tissue procurement company website, at the panel’s recent hearing on fetal tissue “pricing.”

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Although the panel’s stated jurisdiction extends to later abortion care, the inquiry so far has focused on the fetal tissue allegations pushed by CMP, which has seen its leader indicted.

A spokesperson for Blackburn, in response to questions about the panel’s shift, repeatedly referred Rewire to the resolution establishing the inquiry. The actions of the “late-term abortionist” raise concerns within the committee’s purview, the spokesperson said. Blackburn used similar language about Carhart in a press release accompanying the subpoenas.

Kaylie Hanson, national communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that the panel’s activities amounted to a “dangerous, taxpayer funded witch hunt.”

“Attacking women and health care providers is the exact opposite of what members of Congress should be spending their time on, yet that seems to be the only thing the anti-choice members of this panel are doing,” she said.

Carhart has twice participated in pivotal U.S. Supreme Court rulings on later abortion care. In Stenberg v. Carhart, the court struck down a Nebraska statute banning “partial-birth abortions,” a phrase coined by anti-choice activists to describe a relatively uncommon variation of dilation and evacuation abortion (D and E) known by providers as an “intact D and E.”

The Nebraska law, the majority in Stenberg wrote, unduly burdened abortion rights, in part because it was a pre-viability ban that contained no exception for the health of the pregnant person.

Seven years later, in Gonzales v. Carhart, the court upheld the federal “partial-birth abortion” ban, a law that criminalizes a form of later abortion care known as intact dilation and extraction terminations (D and X).

Blackburn summoned Carhart to give a June 13 deposition before the panel. She also directed subpoenas to a local hospital, medical center, police department, fire and rescue service, emergency communications center, medical transport company, and the Maryland Board of Physicians.

The spokesperson told Rewire that the date and topic of the next hearing are to be determined.

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