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Report questions UNM, abortion clinic’s protocols

WASHINGTON – Republicans on a now-defunct congressional panel investigating fetal tissue research issued a final report Wednesday asserting that the University of New Mexico and an Albuquerque abortion provider have no protocols for dealing with aborted fetuses that show “signs of life” after leaving the womb.

Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives issued a nearly 500-page report Wednesday outlining its findings after a contentious yearlong investigation.

The report provided an extensive recounting of the committee’s investigation into the connection between abortion providers and fetal tissue researchers and concluded in part that “public funding for fetal tissue research and abortion providers need reforming.”

Democratic members of the panel called the report “illegitimate” and strongly objected to its release in part because they weren’t given an opportunity to review or vote on it.

Among the report’s findings were four pages dealing with UNM and Southwestern Women’s Options, an Albuquerque clinic that provides late-term abortions and has sent fetal tissue to UNM for research, and testimony deposed from a physician/administrator at UNM with knowledge of the UNM Center for Reproductive Health’s abortion procedures. The report says that “neither UNM nor SWWO appears to have any apparatus or procedure to ensure the survival of infants who show signs of life following extraction from the uterus.”

The report quoted the panel’s lawyer asking the UNM physician whether any of the doctors involved at UNM, Southwestern Women’s Options or Planned Parenthood had “reported to you, or discussed with you, that an abortion failed and a live birth resulted?”

The physician replied: “The answer is no at the Planned Parenthood and Southwest Women’s Options and the Center for Reproductive Health. There are situations in the hospital where a planned abortion, an induction of labor for a fetus, for example, with severe anomalies is born alive.”

However, a spokesman for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center told the Journal that “UNM has no record of any induced abortions ever resulting in a live birth.”

A spokeswoman for Southwestern Women’s Options could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Asked whether fellows from UNM who were training at Southwestern Women’s Options would have “been trained in what to do if a child was born alive,” the UNM physician responded, “I don’t know.” The physician also said there is no training at the UNM medical school curriculum on what to do if a child is born alive because of an induced abortion.

Abortion rights supporters contend that fetuses extracted from the womb during a standard abortion procedure conducted before 25 or 26 weeks gestation cannot be born “alive.”

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that stated for purposes of all federal laws, the term “human being” includes every infant who is born alive, regardless of whether that birth is the result of labor, Caesarean section or induced abortion.

The physician was “not familiar” with the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, according to testimony. The physician also said UNM complies with “requirements through the hospital and through the state.”

The Republican-led report said the physician’s testimony “is a startling reflection of the absence of attention given to any standard of care for infants that survive the abortion procedure.”

The panel’s report issued Wednesday also recommended halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood, a national organization that provides abortions as well as other women’s health counseling and services.

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