NRL News

More investigations into harvesting of fetal tissue and organs

by | Dec 14, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico is often described as “one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions.” The few part is correct but a more accurate description is that the abortion clinic performs late-late abortions.

Early this year Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL Director of Education and Research, wrote a three-part series on the final report of the special House Select Investigative Panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Southwestern Women’s Options played a prominent role in that massive report, especially its connection to the University of New Mexico.

For its part, National Review Online wrote the following in August 2016:

In June [2016], to little notice, the House Selective Investigative Panel, set up to probe the accusations made in the CMP [Center for Medical Progress] videos, sent a letter to New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, charging that the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options, an Albuquerque abortion clinic, had “systematically violated” state law, and potentially violated federal law governing the transfer of fetal remains, by providing and using the remains of aborted infants for research. Amid the 250-plus pages of documentation included by the panel is the text of procurement notes provided by the university. In May 2012, a lab technician noted that UNM’s Health Science Center “asked clinic for digoxin treated tissue 24–28 weeks for methylation study + because [redacted name ] wants whole, fixed brains to dissect w/ summer camp students.”

Jump forward to a story that appeared this week in the Albuquerque Journal—“FBI weighs criminal inquiry over fetal tissue.”

Michael Coleman’s first paragraph cuts to the chase: “WASHINGTON – The FBI is considering criminal investigations of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and the Southwestern Women’s Options abortion clinic in Albuquerque over a long-running controversy surrounding the use of aborted fetus tissue in medical research.”

Coleman reminds us that four months after the National Review Online editorial the House Select Investigative Panel “asked the U.S. Justice Department and various state and local law enforcement agencies to open criminal inquiries into Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, including Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque.”

Last Friday Steven E. Boyd, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in Washington, wrote Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., a letter in which Boyd acknowledged

We can confirm that the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI Headquarters has received this information, including the two referrals made to the New Mexico Attorney General regarding practices of the UNM HSC and SWO, and sent the materials to the relevant FBI field offices for review and any action deemed appropriate.

This is the same Steven Boyd who last week wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee formally requested unredacted documents from the Committee supporting a December 2016 report titled “Human Fetal Tissue Research.” As you recall from Dr. O’Bannon’s third story, following an exhaustive investigation Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley [R.-Iowa] referred Planned Parenthood and other providers to the FBI for investigation.

According to Coleman, Boyd could not confirm or deny an “actual criminal investigation because of long-standing protocol that prohibits public discussion of ongoing inquiries.”

“However, please be assured that the Department is committed to bringing enforcement action wherever the facts and evidence demonstrates prosecutable violations of federal law,” the letter said. The House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has also asked New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to open investigations into the matter. Balderas has said only that his office has the matter under review.