Students for Life, a pro-life student group at UNM, demanded that UNM Health Sciences Center administration disclose all the relevant information concerning fetal tissue research via subpoena to the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.
Students for Life President Sadé Patterson responded in an email statement to HSC employees and stated that HSC Chancellor Paul Roth and the administration “(Have) not provided the Select Panel with the names of faculty or learners who participated in fetal tissue research at this time.”
Patterson said that UNM, under Roth, has been evading open records requests for some time in regard to studies involving body parts and organs from babies, which were harvested within minutes of the abortions.
“It’s unfortunate that UNMHSC’s lack of transparency has resulted in Congressional subpoenas to allow the public to understand what’s happening to these unborn babies, how their parts are harvested and whether the women involved are receiving informed consent as required by the law,” she said.
Roth stated in his email that HSC has provided more than 3,000 pages of documents to the panel, most of them prior to the issuance of a subpoena, regarding fetal tissue research conducted at the research center.
He said that they are cooperating with the panel in the spirit of transparency, but that asking for names is entering questionable territory.
“We are deeply troubled by the panel’s request for the identities of faculty, students and staff who helped conduct the research in question or who were involved in certain abortion procedures. In its first hearing on this matter, on Wednesday, March 2, the Panel’s chair refused to explain to her colleagues the rationale behind the demand for names of faculty and staff,” Roth stated.
He wrote that congressional committees and investigative panels have wide-ranging powers, including the power to demand that relevant information be produced via subpoena.
“We have not provided the Select Panel with the names of faculty or learners who participated in fetal tissue research at this time. Nor have we identified lab technicians. As compelled by the subpoena, we provided published articles related to this research that are already in the public domain,” he stated.
He said that such articles name the principal investigators behind the research, as well as sources of funds, and that he believes that information to be adequate.
Roth reassured UNMHSC employees of his ironclad commitment to guaranteeing the safety and well-being of everyone at the HSC, the email stated.
However, Patterson said that it was not up to Roth to decide which documents should and should not be turned over.
“Many of the researchers are publicly named in the studies, so we are not buying his argument of protecting staff, since UNM has been evading questions regarding these practices before the Congressional investigation,” she said.
She said that the shroud of secrecy surrounding the University’s use of aborted baby organs and body parts is disturbing, and gives the appearance that it has something to hide.
“These are serious matters involving human lives, harvesting of organs and potential violations of the law, and the public has a right to know what is taking place,” she said.
NM Political Report earlier reported that Roth’s email came after another Albuquerque women’s health clinic, Southwest Women’s Options, similarly promised to resist part of another subpoena by the Congressional Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives asking for five years of employee information.
The publication reported that the panel, led by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, is looking into whether abortion providers are profiting from tissue research conducted on aborted fetuses.
Sayyed Shah is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @mianfawadshah.