Maybe you’ve heard about the excesses and overt bias shown by the GOP-dominated House Select Panel that was convened to “investigate” accusations that Planned Parenthood sold researchers fetal tissue obtained from abortions – which would be illegal if the organization were attempting to profit from such sales. Not only were the accusations fully discredited long before the panel was convened, but the antics of its members, especially the Chair, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, have been so egregious that they have elicited a letter (pdf) of protest from 98 House members addressed to Blackburn and House Speaker Paul Ryan asking that the Panel be disbanded.
As a resident of Missouri, one of the interesting aspects of this letter lies in the signature area. Take a look. Unless I’m missing something, not one of Missouri’s House members, Democratic or Republican, signed the letter.
Such a failure on the part of Republicans is to be expected. Nevertheless, given the criminal aspect of the spurious accusations – which are especially serious since they are being used to influence policy and provide fodder for misleading political attacks – U.S. House Republicans from Missouri, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2), Jason Smith (R-8), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3), Billy Long (R-7) , Sam Graves (R-6) and Vicky Hartzler (R-4), should be held accountable for their partisans’ behavior. If they won’t disavow the ugly political charade enacted by the panel, they deserve our public scorn at the very least.
But, of course, Republicans will be … Republicans. The failure of our Democrats is potentially much worse. For Democrats Lacy Clay Jr. (D-1) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-5) not to sign the letter is inexcusable. You don’t have to be for or against abortion to stand up for honest government or to oppose attacks on legal scientific research that benefits all of us. At the very least, these congressmen ought to be concerned about the waste of taxpayer money that is involved in the panel’s gratuitous activities. Shouldn’t we ask them why their names are missing? Was it because they didn’t get the letter in time? An oversight on the part of staff? Disagreement with the text of the letter? Or was it just plain old political fear? We’re paying for this travesty after all. We deserve to know.
Find below the text of the letter:
We write to you as members of Congress who are deeply concerned with the way the Select Panel is conducting itself, specifically in its recent attempts to investigate how researchers acquire fetal tissue.
As you may know, after more than two months of reviewing the joint inquiry, a grand jury in Texas recently cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. Instead, the grand jury indicted two of the anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress for felonies committed in the course of making hidden-camera videos. Despite continued and repeated affirmation that Planned Parenthood broke no laws and did nothing wrong, the Select Investigative Panel has continued to endanger healthcare providers and patients with its extreme rhetoric claiming that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts.
Equally concerning are the investigations into scientists doing research that uses fetal tissue. We are particularly concerned by the recent reports that the select panel had issued 11 subpoenas to medical supply companies and laboratories that will seek the names of researchers, gradate students, laboratory technicians, and administrative personnel involved with fetal tissue research. This misuse of subpoena power is clearly aimed at not only stopping the progress of crucial medical research, but personally intimidating the scientists who are engaged in the life-saving work.
As members of Congress who understand the importance of medical research and on behalf of the millions of Americans who are waiting for the cures to Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and the many other diseases awaiting a cure, we feel compelled to condemn these dangerous tactics. this body has spent more than enough taxpayer money doing the bidding of the National Republican Congressional Committee. It is clear that this Panel serves no other purpose than to carry out politically-motivated attacks on Planned Parenthood and it should be dissolved immediately.