The Tennessean: Rep. Blackburn’s Panel Investigating Fetal Tissue Donation “Is Embroiled In A Wild Goose Chase”

On June 12, The Tennessean’s editorial board wrote that the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had so far failed to find a “smoking gun” proving the existence of “an illicit market for fetal tissue or parts.” Thus the board argued that “the panel would do best to wrap up its work quickly.”

The select panel was formed after the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress released a series of deceptively edited videos, which baselessly alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue. But 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have investigated the allegations and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing while a Texas grand jury indicted CMP’s founder and an associate for the fraudulent actions they took in making the videos. Nevertheless, the panel’s Republican members have repeatedly relied upon material taken from the discredited group as “evidence” of supposed wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. While Blackburn told The Tennessean that the panel wants to “get to the truth” about fetal tissue donation policies, the editorial board wrote, “Right now, the panel is creating the perception that it is embroiled in a wild goose chase.”

From The Tennessean’s June 12 editorial:

The origin of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives chaired by Congressman Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, emanated from a false narrative.

The 14-member bipartisan panel has pivoted since doctored video claimed dishonestly that Planned Parenthood trafficked in fetal parts and organs — the reason the panel was approved by Congress in the first place in October.

Over the past few months, the panel has fallen into mission creep and it needs to regain its focus if it is going to be taken seriously.

The panel has:

  • Issued subpoenas to nearly a dozen companies, medical professionals or health organizations.

  • Targeted biomedical company StemExpress, which purchases fetal tissue from abortion clinics and sells it to medical research organizations.

  • Announced it was investigating a Maryland late-term abortion doctor, potentially putting him in danger by naming him and his clinic.


Blackburn downplayed the Planned Parenthood connection saying she had requested no documents from or issued subpoenas to the health organization.

That tone was in stark contrast to an op-ed she penned in U.S. News and World Report on Nov. 10 when emotions were still running high from the scandal over the doctored videos. She started her op-ed, writing:

“The abhorrent videos released over the last several months detailing abortion practices and treatment of infant lives have shaken and startled compassionate Americans across the country. These videos raise serious questions that deserve a thorough examination, as people have reacted with disgust as they have seen the video footage.”


Anyone — pro-choice or pro-life — should be horrified at the thought of an illicit market for fetal parts.

However, if it does not exist, the panel would do best to wrap up its work quickly.

Right now, the panel is creating the perception that it is embroiled in a wild goose chase.