A lawyer for StemExpress, a tissue procurement company currently embroiled in a controversy surrounding the potential illegal sale of fetal tissue taken from abortion babies, sent a letter to members of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives asking members to withdraw documents that purport to show the company advertising their business as “financially profitable” to clinics.
Under federal law, it is illegal to sell human tissue for profit, although the law does allow clinics to be reimbursed for costs related to administrative activity and shipping.
Committee Democrats argued that the authenticity of the documents, which were produced by committee Republicans and appear to show an unnamed tissue procurement company advertising tissue procurement as “profitable,” could not be validated. Several Democrats questioned Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on the reliability of the documents, saying they do not prove a law has been broken and demanding to question the congressional staff who compiled the documents.
However, the same document produced by House Republicans has also been released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life activist group that has released more than a dozen undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers negotiating the procurement and outright sale of fetal tissue.
The document released by the Center for Medical Progress is identical to that used at Wednesday’s hearing, but does not redact the name of the tissue procurement company in question: StemExpress.
The document goes on to show the California-based tissue company advertising its services to clinics as such:
Join the StemExpress partner program that fiscally rewards clinics for contributing to the advancement of life-saving research – with a solution that is easy to incorporate into your clinic practices.
Furthermore, StemExpress touts:
StemExpress promotes global biomedical research while also providing a financial benefit to your clinic. BY partnering with StemExpress, not only are you offering a way for your clients to participate in the unique opportunity to facilitate life-saving research, but you will also be contributing to the fiscal growth of your own clinic. The stem cell rich blood and raw materials that are usually discarded during obstetrical procedures can, instead, be expedited through StemExpress to research laboratories with complete professionalism and source anonymity.
The advertising document then goes on to include StemExpress’s name, logo, and contact information for the clinic.
“This does not sound to me like tissue donation for research — this sounds like someone who wants to make money — a lot of money — selling baby body parts,” Blackburn said of the document.
According to Politico, lawyers from StemExpress issued a letter Tuesday asking committee Republicans to withdraw the documents. From the report:
In a sharply worded letter Tuesday, StemExpress' lawyers questioned the documents' authenticity and said at least one screen shot appeared to have been illegally made from an internal part of the company's website. Some of the documents, the company said, appear to have been obtained by Daleiden.
House Democrats also continued to push that the documents be withdrawn, saying they haven't been verified and show no proof of wrongdoing. A written statement by Democratic members of the committee ahead of Wednesday’s hearing complained:
The underlying facts used to create those documents have not been identified and the conclusions that Republicans seek to drawn from these materials are inaccurate and misleading. Other documents, including those that Republican staff identified as relating to a “procurement business” cannot be properly understood without further information from individuals with actual knowledge of the information.
StemExpress cut ties with Planned Parenthood last year after CMP began releasing the undercover videos, prompting inquiries from Congress and multiple states into allegations of illegal fetal tissue sale.