The FBI is reviewing a U.S. House panel’s referrals of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC) and an abortion clinic for investigation over allegations of violations of state and federal laws pertaining to the sale of aborted baby body parts.
Stephen E. Boyd, Department of Justice assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, responded Friday to an appeal letter sent by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) to the DOJ, requesting the FBI investigate the referrals of the UNM HSC and the Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) – an abortion facility that markets abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
“We can confirm that the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI Headquarters has received this information, including the two referrals made to the New Mexico Attorney General regarding practices of the UNM HSC and SWO, and sent the materials to the relevant FBI field offices for review and any action deemed appropriate,” Boyd wrote.
Pearce remained diligent in asking the DOJ for updates on criminal referrals made by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, when New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Jr. failed to act on the referrals.
The congressman said in a statement:
I’ve worked tirelessly with New Mexico officials and Members in Congress to ensure the rights and liberties of women and the unborn are protected. After violations were unearthed between the University of New Mexico Health Center and the Southwestern Women’s Options, the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas took no action to hold those accountable. The state of New Mexico must stand for the rule of law. I applaud the action taken by the U.S. DOJ to take up not only the criminal referrals that were sent to New Mexico, but all fifteen criminal referrals that were sent out but not acted upon at the conclusion of the Select Panel’s investigation. These infant lives are precious, and it is completely disgraceful and negligent to sit back while the rights of unborn lives are disregarded.
UNM HSC spokeswoman Alex Sanchez said her organization learned of Boyd’s letter on Monday, reports the Albuquerque Journal.
“As is our practice, if we are contacted, we will cooperate fully,” she said.
SWO spokeswoman Heather Brewer said the clinic “will cooperate fully – as we have always done – with any public investigation of the high-quality, compassionate care that we have provided New Mexico women for more than 40 years.”
In February of 2016, however, the special House panel charged with investigating alleged fetal tissue trafficking in Planned Parenthood, other abortion facilities, and biomedical procurement firms issued subpoenas to UNM and SWO after both organizations were shown to be uncooperative with the congressional investigation.
“While it was our hope that these organizations would voluntarily work with us in this effort, some have refused to cooperate by withholding information that is critical to providing us with answers to questions the American people are asking,” said chairwoman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). “Consequently, if forced to do so, we will issue subpoenas to any organization that refuses to fully cooperate with our investigation.”
Blackburn then wrote the following June to Balderas that the congressional panel had uncovered potentially “too close a relationship” between UNM and SWO.
“We understand that SWO is the sole provider of fetal tissue to UNM,” Blackburn wrote, adding that the House panel also discovered “that transfers of value to SWO from UNM occurred within a context of aggressive abortion advocacy.”
“We appreciate your swift attention to the serious and systematic violations of law committed by the University of New Mexico and Southwestern Women’s Options,” Blackburn concluded.
The special House panel was convened following the release of a series of undercover videos by Center for Medical Progress that exposed the fetal organ sale practices of Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities and their partners in the biomedical procurement industry. The video series led to allegations of violations of federal law.
The House panel also found a relationship between the Planned Parenthood facility of Orange and San Bernardino Counties in California and Yorba Linda biomedical firms DaVinci Biosciences and its sister company DV Biologics. Following a lawsuit by the Orange County, California district attorney’s office, the two biomedical companies have reached a $7.8 million settlement that also requires them to admit guilt that they profited from the sale of aborted baby body parts.
Additionally, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted its own investigation that led to criminal referrals of some Planned Parenthood facilities and biomedical companies over allegations that both have been profiting from the sale of fetal tissue.
The DOJ has now launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices and its alleged involvement in the sale of body parts of babies aborted in its clinics.
Elisa Martinez, executive director of New Mexico Alliance for Life, said the treatment of baby body parts “like commodities” is a very serious violation of the law.
“[W]omen were deceived for years and nobody has held the abortion industry accountable, including Attorney General Hector Balderas,” she said. “It’s time for women, babies, and taxpayers to receive some justice and anyone found in violation of the law to be held accountable, whether they are abortionists, researchers or university officials, no one is above the law.”
Tara Shaver, spokeswoman for Abortion Free New Mexico, says her organization is grateful to Pearce and pleased the DOJ is referring the matter to the FBI. She said in a statement:
It has been over two years since we filed an initial complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General’s office and during this time at least one woman has died from abortion related complications sustained at Southwestern Women’s Options late term abortion facility in Albuquerque, NM. It is our hope that the FBI will investigate in a timely manner and that their investigation leads to a Department of Justice Federal prosecution.
An autopsy report discovered in August found that 23-year-old Keisha Marie Atkins died in February after being transported to UNM Hospital following a late-term abortion performed at SWO.