Democrats protest subpoenas in Planned Parenthood investigation

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Democrats are urging the GOP-led House committee investigating Planned Parenthood to halt a round of subpoenas that they argue will endanger abortion doctors and patients.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who leads the House’s select committee, plans to issue three subpoenas this week in an effort to collect information about fetal tissue research in the U.S. – something that Democrats say will turn into a national database used for political purposes.

The three groups that received subpoenas are Stem Express, the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options. Those three groups are the only ones among more than 30 that were asked to produce documents that did not comply with the request, Blackburn’s spokesman Mike Reynard said Tuesday.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the top Democrat on the House panel, released a statement on Tuesday condemning Blackburn’s inquiries as part of an effort to create a database of individuals involved in abortion or fetal tissue research “without any legitimate reason for doing so.”

“A database like that – with no rules to protect it from public disclosure – poses a grave risk to individual privacy and safety,” Schakowsky said. 

The Illinois Democrat also blasted Blackburn for putting out a false statement that said the subpoenas were issued “after consultation” with Schakowsky.

The committee is investigating the use of fetal tissue for research in the wake of last year’s controversy involving Planned Parenthood. The organization was accused of illegally trying to profit from its fetal tissue donation program, though the claim was never substantiated.

Blackburn’s spokesman said Tuesday that the committee has not requested any patient records. He declined to say what kind of documents were requested.

“Once again the Democrats are politicizing this effort when they know full well that the subpoenas do not ask for and in fact instruct that no patient information be included,” he said.

The House’s special investigation into Planned Parenthood is ramping up despite a major new legal development in the undercover video controversy.

Last month, a grand jury in Texas appointed by the state’s Republican leadership cleared Planned Parenthood of any charges related to the a series of videotapes that were recorded and edited by the Center for Medical Progress.

That same jury decided to instead indict two of the creators of those videos, including the group’s founder, David Daleiden.

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