Panel Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) subsequently released contracts between StemExpress and the abortion clinics in question and called for an investigation from the Department of Health and Human Services. In a letter sent to the department Wednesday, Blackburn wrote, “The key to understanding the HIPAA and consent violations that we’ve referred to HHS is that there’s a business contract between StemExpress and the abortion clinics…[and that that] contract changes the way both entities view the young woman: her baby is now a profit center.”
The letter alleges that StemExpress illegally obtained medical records by fax from three California abortion clinics mentioned by name, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, and the Family Planning Specialists Medical Group. The letter further states that StemExpress employees appeared to negotiate fetal tissue sales with clinics “before they obtained informed consent to procure [it].” Blackburn’s revelations come on the heels of an undercover investigation conducted by the pro-life advocacy group Center for Medical Progress during which secret video recordings showed the fetal organs transactions taking place.
CMP founder David Daleiden said in a statement that he applauds Blackburn’s letter and that “StemExpress paid Planned Parenthood to break the law…[and both organizations] engaged in a five-year-long scheme to profit off aborted baby body parts using unprotected confidential information and disregarding normal patient protections, in direct violation of HIPAA and other federal laws.”
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the nation and the first affiliate to enter into contracts with StemExpress, beginning in April 2010. HHS has, so far, refused to open an investigation.
Elliot Hazzard works for the American Principles Project.