The FBI is looking into whether to open criminal investigations into the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and an Albuquerque abortion clinic regarding the use of aborted fetus tissue for medical research.
The potential investigation into UNM and Southwestern Women's Options was made public last week by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM, who posted the information on his Facbook page.
Pearce posted a letter his office received from Stephen Boyd, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in Washington, D.C., confirming that the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division has received referrals from the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives about UNM and SWWO and
On his Facebook page, Pearce said he was pleased that the DOJ had referred the matter to the FBI.
“I applaud today’s action by Attorney General Jeff Session to take up the criminal referrals in New Mexico regarding violations made by the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the Southwestern Women’s Options (SWWO),” Pearce wrote. “Even more, DOJ will be investigating all fifteen criminal referrals that were sent out but not acted upon at the conclusion of the Select Panel’s investigation. All lives are precious, and it is completely disgraceful and negligent to sit back while the rights of unborn lives are disregarded. We have a moral responsibility to defend those who cannot defend themselves.”
In the letter, Boyd said the FBI had been sent materials about the potential case but said he couldn't confirm or deny that an actual criminal investigation had been opened.
Federal law bars abortion providers from selling fetal tissue, but they can donate it for medical research, and they can recover some of the costs shipping that tissue to researchers.
In the past, SWWO has provided UNMHSC with tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research. Clinic and UNM officials have said that the transfers were legal and were important for medical research.