The possible sale of fetal tissue has created controversy since July, when an organization called The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) started releasing undercover videos showing top level Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal body body parts. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said there is “not a shred of evidence” to investigate Planned Parenthood in Minnesota. Dayton told the media earlier this month, at a protest at the Governor’s residence, “There are some other states, and I don’t know all the details, where there have been more credible implications that those chapters of Planned Parenthood were involved in this tissue donation.”
The focus in Minnesota is on the state’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with 65 state legislators signing a letter in July asking the Governor to authorize an investigation of the organization. Planned Parenthood in Minnesota has denied having any fetal tissue program operating in the state.
Alpha News reported on Monday that the University of Minnesota conducted research using fetal pancreas, lungs, thymus and livers purchased from Advanced BioScience Resources, Inc. (ABR) spanning from 2008-2014. The most recent blanket purchase order closed out in August of this year. There were twelve total purchases orders totaling $5,590. We’ve included some of the purchase orders at the end of this story.
The latest Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video features the procurement manager for ABR talking about how they procure fetal tissue from abortion clinics, including in Minnesota. Since several of the University of Minnesota purchase orders include overnight shipping fees, while others do not, it’s fair to ask whether there is a local provider of fetal body parts operating in the state.
Federal law permits research using fetal tissue, although there is little to no transparency of the networks involved that provide the body parts. ABR operates within the abortion clinics, “standing right outside the door” to get the tissue according to ABR’s procurement manager who is shown on the CMP video. Minnesota law and federal law both prohibit any profit being made on the sale of body parts and Minnesota law also dictates that aborted babies and their remains must be disposed of in a “dignified” manner.
The question then becomes: Are any Minnesota abortion clinics selling fetal body parts? Without a state investigation, Minnesotans may never know.
ABR’s President Linda Tracy didn’t return our call inquiring about which Minnesota clinic their procurement manager was referring to in the CMP video. A company called Capitol Lien in St. Paul is the registered agent for ABR in Minnesota, and confirms that they are doing business in the state.
Alpha News contacted other large abortion clinics in Minnesota. Representatives from Robbinsdale Clinic and Women’s Health Center of Duluth said they do not have any fetal tissue donation programs in their clinics. When we called Whole Women’s Health in Minneapolis, the state’s second largest abortion provider, we were told to contact Fatimah Gifford, their spokesperson in Texas for an answer to the question. Gifford did not return our call.
The Houston Chronicle spoke with Gifford in mid-July about a story on fetal tissue and her response also raised a question about whether their clinic operates a fetal tissue program in Minnesota. She told the paper that they operate abortion clinics in San Antonio, Fort Worth and McAllen, Texas as well as in Minnesota and New Mexico, and while they don’t donate fetal tissue in Texas, their company does generally “seek to provide that option for women in affiliation with high-quality research institutions if we are able to.” If they’re not donating organs from their Texas clinics, it leaves their Minnesota and New Mexico clinics in question.
Whole Woman’s Health operates one clinic in Minneapolis and offers abortions for up to 24 weeks gestation. They perform one-third of all abortions in the state per the Star Tribune who featured the organization in a January 2015 story about a mother-of-three who went to the clinic for a 21-week abortion. Whole Woman’s Health provides a surgical abortion consent form, it states, “I understand that the fetal tissue removed during the abortion will be disposed of, following legal and health guidelines.”
Governor Dayton has acknowledged “credible implications” of Planned Parenthood in other states, but will he acknowledge evidence in his own state that may indicate the buying and selling of fetal body parts?
Minnesota is one of only seventeen states that allows for taxpayer-funded abortions. Alpha News will continue to follow this story.