Activism

Congress members, pro-lifers demand investigation into University of New Mexico fetal research practices

University of New Mexico

New Mexico’s most populous city, Albuquerque, is infamous for being one of the late-term abortion capitals of the nation. On Wednesday, politicians joined prominent pro-life group New Mexico Alliance for Life (NMAFL) in a press conference, demanding an investigation into criminal referrals in the abortion-supportive state.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, chair of the Select Panel on Infant Lives, along with Congressman Steve Pearce, joined a group of pro-lifers on Wednesday, calling on state officials to address criminal referrals issued by the Panel, which cited “numerous violations of federal and state law between the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options late-term abortion center.”

According to NMAFL, Blackburn said that “[t]o receive even one penny of profit,” from fetal tissues “is a ten year felony offense.”

The criminal referrals were sent from the congressional panel to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas — one in June 2016 and one in December 2016, reports the Silver City Sun-News — after “finding the University of New Mexico violated the Spradling Act — prohibiting the exchange of fetal parts produced through an induced abortion” and after “discovering more evidence that the Southwestern Women’s Options did not acquire proper consent by women prior to using their unborn infant tissue for UNM research.”

KRQE reported that Pearce noted, “UNM has had plenty of opportunities to know they were in violation of law and now we’re calling on Hector Balderas to do his job.” KRQE also admitted that the university “has used fetal tissues taken from the late term abortion clinic Southwestern Women’s Options for research,” without “fully informing the women that their fetuses can be used for research,” according to Congressional leaders and pro-lifers.

Pearce added that “no one should be held above the law” and that “clear legal violations were made by the University of New Mexico.”

Elisa Martinez, executive director of NMAFL, said at Wednesday’s press conference that “[t]housands of New Mexico women’s rights have been violated, as they were not provided a legal and valid informed consent to donate infant body parts for UNM research.”

New Mexico is one of seven states which permits abortion at any stage of gestation, and it draws women from many other states who desire late-term abortions. But the final report released by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, found here, details numerous violations of the law and compels the state attorney general to investigate fully. While his office continues to say it’s looking into the matter, NMAFL is calling for action on the part of residents. In a letter to its supporters Thursday, NMAFL encouraged citizens to contact AG Balderas and ask for “a formal investigation into the Select Panel’s criminal referrals….”

Operation Rescue reports that sometime after the press conference, “[r]epresentatives from national and state pro-life organizations met on Wednesday with Deputy Attorney General Tania Masts,” who informed them that “the Attorney General’s office has sent ‘inquiry letters’ to UNM and SWO requiring a ‘large amount of information to be produced’ as part of the inquiry into alleged criminal conduct.” This meeting included representatives from Priests for Life, Survivors, Sound Legal Group, Operation Rescue, and Abortion Free New Mexico. Furthermore, in a written statement to Operation Rescue, James Hallinan, the communications director for the AG’s office, said, “We are aggressively working on gathering further information that will assist in our ongoing review of this matter.”

NMAFL, which has spearheaded much of the investigation into the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, noted in its letter Thursday:

Despite what UNM HSC Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth claims, there is ample evidence that UNM HSC has not conducted research in manner that is “transparent, ethical or lawful.” UNMHSC has also not fully complied with congressional subpoenas, NM legislators requests and NMAFL’s open records requests for public information of the state of New Mexico. … [T]here are 5 areas of the law UNM HSC has violated in harvesting aborted infant body parts for experimentation, as evidencing by the Panel’s report and NMAFL’s investigation: 2 New Mexico state statutes, 5 violations of federal statute, 2 federal regulations cited by the Select Panel, Violations of N.M. Stat. Ann. § 24-6B-2 , § 24-6B-3, the Jonathan Spradling Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. 

Blackburn, Pearce, NMAFL and other public officials and private agencies clearly are determined to continue to cry out for action until the truth of what’s happening at the university medical center is revealed through a full and formal investigation.

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