On Wednesday, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives released bombshell documents – subpoenaed by Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R—TN) – exposing egregious violations of patient privacy by Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, a tissue procurement middleman company. “Now we know why Planned Parenthood and their allies have fought so hard to oppose any scrutiny of their barbaric aborted baby body parts business,” said the Center for Medical Progress in a press release on Wednesday. “[T]he violations in Planned Parenthood and StemExpress’ illegal baby body trade goes far deeper than anyone ever realized.”
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act, contains patient rights laws which put patients in control of who sees their private medical information, and when. These protections were decimated by the profiteering of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress. StemExpress, in collusion with Planned Parenthood, violated HIPAA by using protected health information, such as gestational age ranges and anomalies in the babies to be aborted, for no valid medical purpose. Instead, the information was shared by Planned Parenthood and used by StemExpress only to further their respective profit margins.
StemExpress’ workflow, obtained in detail by the Select Investigative Panel, is clearly aimed at no other goal than maximizing profits. So focused was StemExpress on profit that the workflow instructions for the StemExpress tissue procurement technicians who were embedded inside of Planned Parenthood abortion mills in California, even state: “If you have an excellent sample with no researcher listed on today’s schedules, please contact Cate [Dyer, StemExpress President and CEO] immediately, and they will work to call researchers who may be interested even though they are not currently scheduled.”
In addition, StemExpress was exposed for violating Institutional Review Board (IRB) regulations, which protect patient informed consent, by fraudulently using invalid consents and misleading scientific researchers into believing that the tissue procurement process and relationship between StemExpress and the pregnant women was legal.
StemExpress also violated Health and Human Services rules regarding informed consent for human research. Patient consent forms from StemExpress make claims about the purpose and efficacy of the aborted baby research that are not in-line with federal informed consent laws. There are additional informed consent safeguards, furthermore, for pregnant women who are considered by law to be “vulnerable to coercion or undue influence.” Because StemExpress was apprised of which women were pregnant with the children whose bodies were coveted for research (due to their gestational period, anomaly, or a host of other criteria), Planned Parenthood’s abortion patients were potentially extremely vulnerable to such “undue influence” as is prohibited by law.
In a press release from the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, Rep. Blackburn insightfully noted that the collusion between Planned Parenthood and StemExpress was wholly profit-driven, that the collusion, “changes the way both entities view the young woman: her baby is now a profit-center.” Blackburn continued: “This betrayal of a young woman’s trust should disgust us all. It takes financial advantage, obtaining consent through coercion, and deceives the woman, all in violation of federal privacy laws.” Chairman Blackburn has submitted a letter to the Director of the Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections asking the office to investigate StemExpress and respond accordingly to the abuses.