Planned Parenthood’s business partnership with StemExpress not only transgressed federal fetal trafficking laws, but also abused the privacy of women requesting abortions and deceitfully obtained consent for the use of their children’s aborted tissue, a congressional panel has discovered.
Earlier this month, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Select Investigative Panel uncovered contracts between Planned Parenthood and StemExpress revealing the two have violated federal regulations regarding the sale of aborted baby parts and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). These recent findings prompted leaders from pro-life organizations to send a letter to House leaders today pleading for them to reassign taxpayer dollars currently funding Planned Parenthood.
The letter, addressed to representatives including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, declared Planned Parenthood’s illicit trade with StemExpress has violated “federal law and regulations,” “patient privacy and safety,” and “basic human dignity.”
“Earlier this month, the Panel revealed the actual contracts between some of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates in the country and StemExpress,” the letter noted, quoting a Planned Parenthood service agreement attached to the Select Panel’s findings. “These contracts, such as the one with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, provide that Planned Parenthood will bill StemExpress $55 for every fetal organ ‘determined in the clinic to be usable’ that StemExpress is able to procure.”
Testimonies at the April 20 hearing on “The Pricing of Fetal Tissue” already established that the partnership between Planned Parenthood and StemExpress most likely violated federal regulations. These actual contracts provide proof.
The panel didn’t only discover violations of fetal trafficking laws. According to the letter, three weeks ago the panel sent a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services board regarding discovered HIPAA violations, stating that “Each time that an abortion clinic employee shared a medical chart with a StemExpress employee, both violated the HIPAA privacy rule,” because “the disclosures of patients’ PHI made by the abortion clinics, and received by StemExpress, were neither required nor permitted under HIPAA.” According to the panel’s complaint,
The Panel’s investigation has uncovered information indicating that StemExpress and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific and Family Planning Specialists Medical Group committed systematic violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (‘HIPAA’) privacy rule from about 2010 to 2015. These violations occurred when the abortion clinics disclosed patients’ individually identifiable health information to StemExpress to facilitate the TPB’s efforts to procure human fetal tissue for resale.
The panel also found that even after consent was obtained from the mother to harvest the fetal tissue, “the patient consent form used at Planned Parenthood to get alleged ‘permission’ from pregnant women to harvest their babies’ body parts after abortions ‘was grossly insufficient.’” Although the form claims that aborted baby tissue will be used to treat illnesses like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, cancer, and Parkinson’s, such treatments and cures do not exist.
The letter goes on to quote Dr. Lawrence Goldstein, a stem cell scientist at University of California-San Diego and a financial donor to Planned Parenthood who has used Planned Parenthood-provided aborted fetal brain in the past. At the March 2016 “The Bioethics of Fetal Tissue” Select Investigative Panel hearing, Goldstein admitted that the language of cures and treatments on the patient consent forms was “an inappropriate statement that should not have been made on that form. I don’t know who wrote it, that would not have made it past my IRB.”
As the authors of the letter noted, “with approximately 25,000 patients seeking abortions and pregnancy tests at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte each year,” this Planned Parenthood location alone exposed the private medical information of “hundreds of thousands of women” in its partnership with StemExpress.
Calling these arrangements “nothing short of barbaric,” the letter went on to include excerpts from emails between StemExpress and Planned Parenthood employees the Select Panel discovered:
Planned Parenthood provided such intimate access to StemExpress into its patient medical records that the company could email customers from the clinic offering what fetal ‘specimens’ were available to purchase that day. ‘There will be some potentials tomorrow, would you like to be on the schedule?’ a StemExpress representative emailed in reply to a customer’s grim query: ‘How is the pancreas forecast today – any possible procurements?’ Another StemExpress customer emailed on April 13, 2015: ‘i [sic] also wanted to put in another order of 4 normal fetal brains distributed as before […] please send me a quote for the same.
While these representative findings are from merely a few Planned Parenthood locations, such as Mar Monte, the letter added the Select Panel has discovered that such illicit behavior is prominent throughout the country, with almost 1 in 5 abortion clinics selling fetal tissue to StemExpress as of last year.
The letter concluded with a plea to reassign taxpayer funding to the “13,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers across the country that provide comprehensive, full-spectrum health care regardless of patients’ ability to pay.”
“They outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics nearly 20 to 1. There is no need, and no justification whatsoever to continue to spend over half-a-billion taxpayer dollars each year on Planned Parenthood’s lawless and unaccountable abortion business.”
Twenty pro-life leaders signed this plea, including Tom McClusky of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund and David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress.