The latest target of congressional Republicans’ “McCarthyesque” investigation into an illicit market in “baby body parts”—a fabrication of anti-choice activists —fought back Wednesday against demands for information about his practice and patients.
Dr. Warren Hern, a prominent Colorado-based provider of later abortion care, didn’t mince words in his reply to Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), starting with how she had described him in her initial outreach: as an “abortionist.”
“The term ‘abortionist’ is a vicious, despicable anti-abortion propaganda term intended to slander the person to whom it is applied,” Hern wrote in a contentious, personal, five-page letter to Blackburn. “Your use of this grotesque term clearly displays your sectarian and punitive purposes, which are the opposite of any attempt to find truth, but rather to punish those you don’t understand.”
Hern provided the letter to Rewire the same day he sent it to Blackburn and several other House lawmakers. He copied Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Blackburn’s top foe on the panel; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who nominally oversees the panel as chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee; and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has praised the panel and refused to take up a resolution to disband it.
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The letter came a day after Rewire exclusively reported that the panel is on track to spend $1.59 million in taxpayer money.
Blackburn has gone after Dr. LeRoy Carhart, another prominent provider of later abortion care, and the clinic where he works, Operation Rescue target Germantown Reproductive Health Services. Her inquiries continue even as panel officials have said the investigation is nearing an end.
Hern refused to comply with Blackburn’s demands, citing his Fifth Amendment rights and doctor-patient confidentiality.
“Your ‘investigation’ is legislative harassment that endangers our lives,” he said, speaking of women, their families, and health-care workers. “The blood of any of us who are assassinated is on your hands.”