A Tennessee Republican who opposes abortion is leading an investigation into abortion practitioners but denies the probe is politically motivated, the Tennessean reports.
In a mounting controversy, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn chairs the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which Democrats have accused of being partisan and an abuse of congressional power. But Blackburn, who is a vocal opponent of Planned Parenthood, defended her panel, the paper reported Saturday.
“We must continue to pursue these records if we are ever to get the facts that we need in order to complete our investigation,” she said. “The American people deserve nothing less.”
The panel has issued about two dozen subpoenas targeting abortion providers and people who use fetal tissue in scientific research. It has also started investigating a Maryland doctor who provides late-term abortions. It has gone so far as seeking banking and financial records for StemExpress, a biomedical supplier.
“While the panel’s investigation has never been fair or fact-based, its pattern of reckless disregard for safety has escalated over the past few weeks,” a letter signed by 181 of 188 House Democrats to Speaker Paul Ryan read.
The Democrats are calling on Ryan to disband the panel, accusing Blackburn and fellow Republicans of “misuse of subpoena power to intimidate scientific researchers, doctors, clinics, health-care providers, universities and others” after a press release identified an abortion provider and his clinic by name.
The Democrat signatories called the panel’s activities a “disgrace.”
“The press release’s hyperbolic rhetoric and misleading allegations pose a real danger to the doctor, the staff at the clinic and the patients of the named clinic,” the letter, obtained by the Tennessean, reads. “These recent steps are completely outside the bounds of acceptable congressional behavior. We disgrace ourselves by allowing this misconduct to continue.”