Attorney General: Fetal tissue transfers for research legal - Albuquerque Journal

Attorney General: Fetal tissue transfers for research legal

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

The transfer of fetal tissue from an Albuquerque abortion clinic for research at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center violated no state law, according to a letter from New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office to a congressional committee.

The AG’s letter dated Thursday comes more than a year after the now-disbanded Select Investigative Panel of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent criminal referrals to Balderas’ office alleging potential criminal violations in the collaboration between university researchers and Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque.

The special committee, which ended its work a year ago, was created to investigate Planned Parenthood and the procurement of fetal tissue for research.

But Balderas’ office found no criminal violations of either of the two state laws cited by the committee in referrals issued in 2016.

A civil review also undertaken by the AG’s office “also found insufficient evidence to find a violation of either act.”

Southwestern Women’s Options has been targeted over the years by anti-abortion advocates, because it is one of the few clinics nationwide that performs third trimester abortions.

The committee, joined by a local anti-abortion group Abortion Free New Mexico, alleged that Southwestern Women’s Options’ donation of fetal tissue from induced abortions for medical research at UNMHSC was unlawful and constituted violations of the state’s Spradling Act, which makes it a felony for a person to purchase or sell an organ or tissue for “valuable consideration.”

But the AG, according to its letter, found no evidence to suggest “quid pro quo exchanges for fetal tissue. Indeed, there is no evidence that any of the donated fetal tissue was used for any purpose other than research and education.”

Moreover, the Spradling Act, which clarifies procedures surrounding organ donation, exempts fetuses that are the subject of an induced abortion, the AG found.

“While both SWWO and the UNM Health Sciences Center may have benefited in a variety of ways as a result of broad collaboration, such relationships between healthcare providers and research institutions appear to be common in the medical field,” the letter states.

Both the congressional committee and Tara Shaver of Abortion Free New Mexico also claimed criminal violations of the New Mexico Maternal, Fetal and Infant Experimentation Act.

But the AG found that law “was never intended to regulate fetal tissue resulting from an induced abortion.”

In its final report in December 2016, the select committee reported that a tissue technician employed by

UNM traveled to Southwest Women’s Options to “procure” human fetal organs or tissue an average of 39 times a year since 2010.

In December 2016, the Republican-led select panel also asked the U.S. Justice Department to open inquiries into Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, including Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque.

Relevant FBI field offices received information from the panel, including the criminal referrals made to Balderas’ office. The status of that FBI review in New Mexico wasn’t clear Thursday.

“There will never be justice in New Mexico until leaders, lawmakers and law enforcers stop propping up a failing abortion industry whose grisly trade negatively effects the most vulnerable of our communities,” Shaver of Abortion Free New Mexico said in a written statement.

Pro-life advocates questioned why Balderas issued his letter a year after the House committee disbanded.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Attorney General: Fetal tissue transfers for research legal


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Balloon crashes on West Side
ABQnews Seeker
A hot air balloon crashed Friday ... A hot air balloon crashed Friday morning in Northwest Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Police Department on Twitter said it had closed eastbound Paseo del Norte ...
2
The anxiety of pernicious poisoning
ABQnews Seeker
Placitas residents seek answers at event ... Placitas residents seek answers at event related to the sudden loss of Big Blue
3
Tesla announces second New Mexico dealership
ABQnews Seeker
The new location will be located ... The new location will be located near Albuquerque on land belonging to ....
4
Delivering hope and friendship
ABQnews Seeker
'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire ... 'Pandemic Pizza Man' looks to inspire others
5
Special Shape Rodeo features 120 hot air balloons
ABQnews Seeker
An event where dinosaurs mingle with ... An event where dinosaurs mingle with Star Wars heroes
6
Vara releases two new sparkling wines
ABQnews Seeker
Vara Winery & Distillery has released ... Vara Winery & Distillery has released Silverhead Brut NV ($25) and Silverhead Brut Rosado NV ($27).
7
Lainey Wilson to hit the stage at the 2022 ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque ... Lainey Wilson will perform in Albuquerque at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, during Music Fiesta at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
8
Lobo hoops notebook: TV games announced, some dates changed
ABQnews Seeker
Every conference game to be on ... Every conference game to be on TV
9
Happy landing as 'baby bee' is reunited with parents
ABQnews Seeker
'The bee is safe,' police chief ... 'The bee is safe,' police chief declares, attributing the quick recovery to ‘old-fashioned detective work’