DANGEROUS, CHILLING EFFECT OF REPUBLICAN SELECT PANEL
(House of Representatives - September 27, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 146 (Tuesday, September 27, 2016)]
[Pages H5915-H5919]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




         DANGEROUS, CHILLING EFFECT OF REPUBLICAN SELECT PANEL

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky) for 5 minutes.

[[Page H5916]]

  

  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, last week, Republicans on the panel they 
call the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which we call the 
Select Panel to Attack Women's Health, voted to recommend criminal 
contempt against a small biotech company and its owner and also release 
publicly the name of a doctor who has been interviewed privately by 
that panel. These actions are a disgrace to the House.
  Over the past year, the select panel Republicans have abused 
congressional authority to harass, intimidate, and bully doctors and 
researchers, with the ultimate goal of driving companies away from 
fetal tissue research and ending lifesaving research. They have done 
this largely out of the public view and, ironically, at the same time 
that Chair Blackburn and other leading Republicans profess support for 
researchers and for funding 21st century cures.
  Tragically, their stealth campaign against lifesaving research is 
working. One tissue procurement company informed the panel that: ``Due 
in large part to the costs borne from having to respond to these 
congressional inquiries, our client is no longer doing business.''
  The University of California at Los Angeles told us that ``recent 
national events have increased the challenge of obtaining the fetal 
tissues'' needed for ongoing research. The negative publicity about 
fetal tissue research also delayed publication of a study whose 
findings have the potential to impact ``development of therapies for 
HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and organ transplant 
rejection.''
  UCLA went on to explain that one lab ``has reduced their effort on 
studies that require fetal tissues, despite the importance of this 
research, due to concerns about personal safety.''
  Rockefeller University similarly told the panel that there is now ``a 
paucity of sources from which to obtain human fetal tissue, creating 
roadblocks to the conduct of important biomedical research'' and that 
one laboratory is ``currently unavailable to perform research that it 
hopes will lead to cures for human disease.''
  Other researchers have reported that promising studies and clinical 
trials for neurological conditions, such as MS and Alzheimer's disease, 
have been halted or delayed due to reduced availability of fetal tissue 
for research. Other leading institutions, including Harvard, the Yale 
School of Medicine, and the University of Minnesota, have confirmed the 
importance of fetal tissue as a tool for understanding and treating 
diseases and conditions that impact millions of Americans.
  The Republican attacks on this research are particularly troubling as 
scientists race to understand how the Zika virus impacts fetal brain 
development. A leading association of research scientists has explained 
that ``the use of donated fetal tissue, including placental tissue, has 
provided the best understanding of how Zika viruses behave in the 
body.'' These insights ``are already guiding the development of drugs 
that may protect the unborn baby from the ravages of the Zika virus.''
  The Republican select panel's dangerous witch hunt has put this 
lifesaving research at risk. It is also endangering individual lives.
  Last Monday, Chair Blackburn publicly released the name of a 
healthcare provider who was privately interviewed by the panel. This 
doctor has already been the target of harassment and threats and 
repeatedly asked the panel to safeguard her identity. Just last week, 
her lawyer informed Chair Blackburn that her university had to increase 
security as a result of a prior leak of information by panel 
Republicans. Even knowing this, they released her name.
  This has gone on long enough. We are elected officials. It is our 
opportunity and responsibility to make things better for the people we 
serve. That privilege and the power that accompanies it should not be 
abused. This select panel should be brought to an immediate end.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record letters from the University of 
California at Los Angeles, Rockefeller University, and from university 
counsel regarding the danger that panel Republicans have created for 
this doctor and her students.

                                     University of California,

                              Los Angeles, CA, September 19, 2016.
     Hon. Jan Schakowsky,
     Ranking Member, Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, 
         Energy and Commerce Committee, House of Representatives, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative Schakowsky: On behalf of the University 
     of California, Los Angeles (``UCLA''), I have attached UCLA's 
     response to your letter of July 28, 2016, requesting that 
     UCLA provide the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives 
     with information to better understand the importance of and 
     risk to fetal tissue research.
       UCLA conducts research using fetal tissue that is vital to 
     an understanding of human biology and to efforts directed 
     toward new treatments for a wide variety of adult and 
     childhood diseases and medical conditions. Our research is 
     conducted in full compliance with federal and state law and 
     in accordance with our tripartite mission of education, 
     research, and public service. The information provided below 
     answers the five specific requests made in your letter.
       Please note that UCLA has omitted identifying information 
     from the enclosed documents based on concerns for the safety 
     and security of individuals conducting research. Should you 
     have any questions regarding this response, please contact 
     me.
           Sincerely,
                                   UCLA Health/David Geffen School
                                                      of Medicine.


               1. Past benefits of fetal tissue research.

       Since the 1930's, fetal tissue has been used in a broad 
     range of research that has led to lifesaving discoveries. The 
     Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), of which 
     UCLA is a member, has previously noted that human fetal 
     tissue research has been critical in establishing permanent 
     cell lines for use in vaccine research for diseases such as 
     polio, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and 
     rabies. These established cell lines are currently being used 
     to develop an Ebola vaccine.
       Fetal tissue proved to be necessary for the production of 
     consumer vaccines against measles, rubella, rabies, chicken 
     pox, shingles and hepatitis A. According to the journal 
     Nature, at least 5.8 billion vaccine doses have been derived 
     from fetal tissue lines.


  2. Potential future benefits that might be gained through continued 
                             fetal research

       Biomedical research continues to benefit from the use of 
     new fetal tissue. According to the U.S. Department of Health 
     and Human Services, ``fetal tissue continues to be a critical 
     resource for important efforts such as research on 
     degenerative eye disease, human development disorders such as 
     Down syndrome, and infectious diseases, among a host of other 
     diseases.''
       As noted in the journal Nature, ``In the past 25 years, 
     fetal cell lines have been used in a roster of medical 
     advances, including the production of a blockbuster arthritis 
     drug and therapeutic proteins that fight cystic fibrosis and 
     hemophilia.'' Yet, existing fetal material and cell lines ``. 
     . . are of limited use for scientists because they do not 
     faithfully mimic native tissue and represent only a subset of 
     cell types. . . . The lines can also accumulate mutations 
     after replicating in vitro over time.'' New fetal material is 
     critical if we are to continue to pursue vaccines for HIV and 
     other diseases as well as create treatments and cures for 
     devastating illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's 
     Disease, blinding eye disorders such a macular degeneration, 
     diabetes, and schizophrenia.
       Our response to question 4 below cites a diverse range of 
     diseases being studied by UCLA laboratories whose research 
     requires the use of fetal tissues. These research activities 
     are critical for the development of new therapies for the 
     treatment of these diseases.


3. Unique aspects of fetal tissue in research, in comparison with adult 
   cells or other cellular organisms that might be used for research 
                                purposes

       As described in the following summary of research performed 
     in UCLA laboratories (response to question 4), human fetal 
     tissues are critical for current and future research 
     activities for multiple reasons. First, human fetal tissues 
     exhibit biological properties that are distinct from those of 
     tissues derived from children or adults, and these 
     properties, often related to an enhanced capacity for growth 
     and regeneration, can be highly desirable for the development 
     of novel therapies. It therefore is critical to understand 
     the unique properties of fetal tissues, which can be 
     accomplished only through a direct analysis. Some therapies 
     under development would require the direct use of fetal 
     cells, such as recent clinical trials using fetal neural 
     cells to treat patients with spinal cord injury or 
     Parkinson's Disease. Most therapies, however, will emerge 
     from the study of fetal tissues rather than directly 
     including the cells in the ultimate drug product.
       Second, the direct study of human fetal tissues is 
     essential for an understanding of human development. This 
     understanding is necessary for the advancement of fundamental 
     biology, for the pursuit of therapies for the treatment of 
     developmental diseases, such as Down syndrome and the 
     microcephaly associated with Zika virus infection, and for 
     the pursuit of therapies for the treatment of many other 
     diseases that have been linked to developmental defects, 
     including several cancers.
       Third, human fetal tissues are critical for the 
     establishment of mouse models for the

[[Page H5917]]

     study of human diseases and for the testing of potential new 
     drugs and other therapies. For example, rodents are highly 
     valuable for biomedical research, but they are inadequate for 
     many studies of human disease and for the advanced testing of 
     new therapies (e.g. HIV does not infect rodent cells). To 
     circumvent the limitations of rodents, human fetal tissues 
     can be implanted into immunocompromised mice, thereby 
     generating an invaluable model system for studies that 
     require the use of a living animal, such as the testing of 
     new drugs. Importantly, human fetal tissues are essential for 
     the establishment of these models due to their unique 
     properties in comparison to tissues from children and adults.


  4. Summary of any research conducted since 2010 that UCLA has been 
 involved in that used fetal tissue or relied upon other studies that 
                           used fetal tissue

       Research laboratories at UCLA studying a wide array of 
     human diseases have used fetal tissues for their medical 
     research projects since 2010. A survey of these researchers 
     resulted in a consistent response that the use of fetal 
     tissues has been, and will continue to be, essential for 
     progress in their fields. While much remains to be learned 
     about the specific properties of fetal tissues, it has been 
     well-established that their properties are distinct from 
     those of adult tissues. Fetal cells often differ from other 
     cells because the fetal cells need to support the rapid 
     growth and maturation of the tissue during fetal and neonatal 
     development; in contrast, the functions of cells from 
     children and adults are usually restricted to maintenance of 
     the physiological functions of the tissue. An understanding 
     of the unique properties of fetal cells and tissues is likely 
     to be of great value for the development of new treatments 
     for a number of devastating human diseases.
       We provide here a summary of seven representative research 
     efforts at UCLA that rely on fetal tissues and for which the 
     research is strongly dependent on continued availability of 
     fetal tissue
       CANCER: One project focuses on an effort to improve the 
     treatment of a form of lymphocyte leukemia in young children. 
     Although the survival rate of these patients has improved 
     dramatically, approximately 15% of pediatric patients with 
     the most aggressive forms of the leukemia continue to die. A 
     growing body of evidence suggests that these fatal leukemias 
     may be unusually aggressive because they emerged from a 
     unique type of B cell progenitor (B cells are white blood 
     cells that secrete antibodies) generated only during fetal 
     development. Research recently completed at UCLA has shown 
     that the genetic regulation of fetal and adult B cell 
     development is distinct. The aim of the ongoing research is 
     to identify genes expressed only in fetal B-cell progenitors 
     that contribute to the development of the aggressive forms of 
     leukemia observed in young children.
       IMMUNITY: Another UCLA research laboratory is immersed in 
     an analysis of fetal T cells, another important type of white 
     blood cell generated in the thymus. A primary goal of this 
     laboratory is to develop improved strategies for rejuvenation 
     of the immune system in cancer patients and in HIV patients 
     whose immune systems have been compromised by chronic virus 
     infection. Human fetal T cell progenitors have been found to 
     be completely different from progenitors found in children 
     and adults in their ability to rejuvenate the immune system. 
     This laboratory has been performing detailed comparisons of 
     the molecular properties of the fetal and adult cells in an 
     effort to understand how to speed up immune system 
     rejuvenation and make the immune system healthier.
       As exemplified above, one general reason several UCLA 
     laboratories rely on fetal tissues for their research is that 
     an examination of the properties of the fetal tissues is 
     needed to understand how they differ from older tissues and 
     from tissues derived from induced pluripotent stem cells 
     (iPSCs). iPSC are cells with embryonic stem cell like 
     properties that can be generated from a patient's own skin 
     cells (by a method developed less than 10 years ago), and 
     then matured into any of a wide variety of human tissues; 
     these cells hold great promise for the treatment of many 
     degenerative and chronic diseases. One goal of the 
     researchers is to engineer adult cells and iPSC to possess 
     the unique, beneficial properties of fetal cells. This goal 
     can be achieved only if the molecular features of the fetal 
     cells have been clearly defined.
       LUNG DISEASES: A UCLA laboratory is pursuing new treatments 
     for a form of lung disease in infants. A long-term goal is to 
     treat this disease by generating iPSC from a patient and then 
     converting the iPSC into therapeutic lung cells. The ultimate 
     therapy would not require the use of fetal cells. However, 
     successful development of the therapy depends on an 
     understanding of the unique properties of fetal lung cells, 
     which have been found by the UCLA laboratory to grow and 
     divide far more robustly than comparable cells from children 
     or adults. The laboratory has developed a disease model that 
     is being used to understand the unusual growth properties of 
     he fetal cells and how these properties can be harnessed for 
     therapeutic benefit.
       GENETIC AND MUSCLE DISORDERS: Another UCLA laboratory 
     studies diseases of muscle, including muscular dystrophy, 
     toward the goal of regenerating functional muscle in 
     patients. Similar to the findings with fetal lung, this 
     laboratory has found that the regenerative capacity of human 
     fetal muscle cells greatly exceeds that of older muscle 
     satellite cells. Recent studies of the underlying mechanisms 
     have revealed possible molecular explanations for the 
     differences between the fetal cells and older cells. This 
     professor considers fetal muscle cells to be the ``gold 
     standard'' for all efforts to develop therapies for 
     degenerative muscle diseases, due to the powerful and unique 
     regenerative properties of these cells. Quite simply, for an 
     understanding of the important differences between fetal 
     muscle cells and older muscle cells, which are critical for 
     the development of novel therapies, there is no alternative 
     to the ability to analyze the fetal tissues themselves. It is 
     also noteworthy that several of these studies are moving 
     rapidly toward clinical trials, which necessitates the focus 
     on human cells rather than rodent models.
       HIV: Another reason several researchers rely on the 
     availability of fetal tissues is that the fetal tissues can 
     be used to create mice implanted with a specific human 
     tissue, thereby providing an animal model in which potential 
     therapies for the treatment of diseases of that human tissue 
     can be tested. Such mice can eliminate the need for the 
     testing of therapies in non-human primates, and are often 
     preferable to studies of non-human primates because they 
     allow the direct study of human cells.
       Some UCLA laboratories use mice containing a human immune 
     system for their studies of potential HIV therapies. These 
     mice, which can be generated successfully only with the use 
     of human fetal cells, are extremely important for progress of 
     the HIV field, as HIV does not infect rodent cells. 
     Currently, these mice are being used to study gene therapy 
     approaches for the treatment of HIV infection, with the 
     studies leading rapidly toward clinical trials.
       BRAIN/SPINAL CORE INJURY: Human fetal tissues are also of 
     great value for studies of the unique structure of the human 
     brain, which is dramatically different from that of the mouse 
     brain. UCLA research has used human embryonic stem cell lines 
     to generate brain organoids (collections of neuronal cells 
     that self-assemble into structures that resemble small 
     portions of the brain). A comparison to fetal brain tissue is 
     essential for the researchers to evaluate the validity of 
     their organoid method, which is currently being used to 
     understand developmental diseases of the brain, as well as 
     the impact of Zika virus on brain development. The laboratory 
     hopes to use this model to screen for drugs that may protect 
     the fetal brain from the growth impairment caused by Zika 
     virus infection. This same laboratory is also studying 
     strategies for the generation of spinal cord neurons in the 
     laboratory, for use in determining the underlying causes of 
     neurodegenerative diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy 
     and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and for screening for 
     drugs that could slow disease progression and extend patient 
     lifespan.
       INFERTILITY: The final UCLA laboratory discussed in this 
     report uses fetal tissues for studies aimed at the diagnosis 
     and treatment of human infertility. State-of-the-art genomics 
     methods are being used to develop reference maps of germ 
     cells and of fertilized eggs at the earliest stages of 
     embryonic development. One goal of these studies is to better 
     understand the reasons for spontaneous miscarriages. These 
     studies are strongly dependent on human fetal tissues because 
     early embryonic development in mice differs substantially 
     from that in humans. The reference maps being developed by 
     this laboratory are also of great importance for the study of 
     germ cell cancers.


    5. Description of any recent changes experienced by UCLA in the 
  availability of fetal tissue for research and the related impact of 
 these changes, including whether or not there have been interruptions 
                 and/or delays in research as a result.

       Most UCLA researchers surveyed emphasized that recent 
     national events have increased the challenge of obtaining the 
     fetal tissues required for the research projects described 
     above. One reputable company was forced to close due to legal 
     expenses associated with challenges to its operations. This 
     has delayed important studies and has forced laboratories to 
     spend a considerable amount of time and resources searching 
     for alternative suppliers. One laboratory has identified a 
     reliable source of fetal tissues in Germany. Another 
     laboratory has reduced their effort on studies that require 
     fetal tissues, despite the importance of this research, due 
     to concerns about personal safety. Of further note, recent 
     publicity surrounding the procurement of fetal tissue delayed 
     publication of a manuscript submitted by UCLA investigators 
     to a renowned journal by more than seven months. The findings 
     reported in that study have the potential to impact the 
     development of therapies for HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis, 
     asthma, and organ transplant rejection.
                                  ____



                                   The Rockefeller University,

                           New York, New York, September 21, 2016.
     Hon. Jan Schakowsky,
     Ranking Member, Select Investigative Panel, House of 
         Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Congresswoman Schakowsky: The Rockefeller University 
     offers our response to your request for information regarding 
     the importance and availability of fetal tissue as a critical 
     resource in aspects of our scientific

[[Page H5918]]

     research. We set forth below your concerns and our responses.


                 Past benefits of fetal tissue research

       Human fetal cells and tissues have had a decisive and major 
     impact on our current understanding of the molecular and 
     cellular origins of human organs and tissues. Human fetal 
     tissues have allowed researchers to explore and understand 
     the biology and uniqueness of human development. This 
     knowledge has translated into the rational design of both 
     treatment and prevention of numerous human diseases and has 
     saved innumerable human lives.
       Fetal tissue has contributed directly to the improvement of 
     child and adult human health. In the 1960s, cell lines 
     derived from fetal tissue were used to manufacture vaccines 
     including those that counter measles, rubella, rabies, 
     chicken pox, shingles and hepatitis A, cumulatively saving 
     millions of lives. The rubella vaccine alone eliminates 5,000 
     miscarriages each year.
       Fetal tissue has been used to uncover disease pathways that 
     overlap with natural developmental processes and may guide 
     development of therapeutic treatments for heart disease. 
     Fetal cell lines have been used in medical advances for the 
     production of pharmaceuticals, including an arthritis drug 
     and therapeutic proteins that fight cystic fibrosis and 
     hemophilia. Every indication emphatically supports the notion 
     that further understanding of degenerative diseases such as 
     Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and a host of other devastating 
     and as yet incurable conditions, depend specifically on 
     access to fetal tissue.
       Ongoing fetal tissue research is critical for continued 
     advances in regenerative medicine, including organ/tissue 
     regeneration of heart, liver, pancreas, lung, muscle, skin, 
     and more, holding out hope for a wide variety of therapeutic 
     discoveries.
       Human tissue-based models for studying uniquely human viral 
     diseases are important for understanding mechanisms of 
     disease progression and developing preventive measures and 
     therapies. Fetal tissue has been used to build increasingly 
     complex models of human disease. A single human fetal liver 
     yields material sufficient to produce dozens of humanized 
     mice. Certain human viruses are severely host-range 
     restricted, meaning they infect humans and no other animals. 
     Fetal tissues are essential for production of humanized mice 
     that can be used in learning about such uniquely human 
     conditions.


Potential future benefits that might be gained through continued fetal 
                            tissue research

       Future benefits of fetal tissue research will include the 
     enhancement of our basic knowledge of human development. It 
     will inevitably impact clinical approaches and provide new 
     means to address currently incurable diseases by providing 
     new technological platforms. Scientists have used information 
     gleaned from studies of motor neuron development to guide 
     stem cells to become neurons and establish stem cell-derived 
     models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a currently 
     untreatable and fatal disease. These models have allowed 
     researchers to develop new drugs that already are being used 
     in clinical trials to treat ALS. Another of the most 
     promising novel technical platforms in regenerative medicine 
     is using cell-based therapy strategies to replace defective 
     organs rather than attempting to repair the diseased tissue.
       For some conditions, potential future benefits must be 
     gained by human fetal tissue research. Certain humanized mice 
     can be produced best with human fetal tissues. Such mice are 
     unique in their ability to support long term infection, thus 
     allowing evaluation of therapies aimed at finding cures.
       It is increasingly important to study infection, disease 
     mechanisms and antiviral interventions in human cells. Fetal 
     tissue provides a rich source of stem cells for studies in 
     cell culture and also engraftment into small animals that can 
     then be used to model infection, disease progression and test 
     therapies. These provide valuable preclinical models that 
     increase the chances of success before progressing to human 
     clinical trials.
       Investigators continue to mine existing gene expression 
     information from fetal tissue samples in order to understand 
     gene function and growth-regulating pathways encountered in 
     normal versus tumor samples. Much that applies to cancer can 
     be learned from gene expression analysis in organ 
     development.
       Wide ranges of adult diseases and disorders have their 
     origin during very early human development. Examples include 
     types 1 and 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, and Huntington's 
     disease. Knowledge of how the human fetus generates discrete 
     organs will provide the blueprint for applying human 
     embryonic stem cells for the generation of specific organs 
     used for supportive and regenerative medicine.


               Unique aspects of fetal tissue in research

       Neither adult stem cells, nor reprogrammed somatic cells 
     approach the versatility and quality of the natural stem 
     cells derived from the fetus which remains the best resource 
     for regenerative medicine. Model organisms, from the fruit 
     fly to rodents, unfortunately cannot fully model human 
     diseases.
       We are aware of how many times promising solutions for 
     diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases have been 
     shown to cure the mouse or rat but fail when tested in 
     humans. The human neocortex, for example, contains cells and 
     anatomy that are specifically human, and not found even in 
     other primates. Fetal tissue provides a unique source of 
     human cells that have the potential to be used directly or 
     engrafted into immunodeficient animals. Human fetal tissue 
     offers an important and unique resource for basic and medical 
     research. There is no comparable substitute for fetal tissue 
     for the accurate understanding of human development.
       The adult immune system is ``educated'' to reject animal 
     hosts, complicating the creation and production of animal 
     models with humanized immune systems. In contrast to the 
     adult, fetal immune cells have not yet been educated and 
     therefore do not recognize the host as foreign. As a result, 
     fetal tissues do not reject the host but rather are 
     engrafted, leading to a chimera that is composed of mouse 
     tissues and human immune cells. These mice are uniquely 
     suited to finding cures through research.
       Modern technologies have opened the door to studying the 
     cellular interplay in complex human tissues during their 
     development, normal, and disease states, as well as in aging. 
     From single-cell expression analysis of fetal tissue, a great 
     deal about intracellular communication can be learned that 
     will increase our understanding of how normal as well as 
     malignant growth is governed, and how therapeutic 
     interventions may take advantage of these molecular programs.


  Recent changes experienced in the availability of fetal tissue for 
                                research

       Currently, there is a paucity of sources from which to 
     obtain human fetal tissue, creating roadblocks to the conduct 
     of important biomedical research. Entities that previously 
     provided the sources of human fetal tissue have either 
     closed, due to external pressure, or currently offer more 
     limited options than previously proffered.
       Laboratories have experienced significant difficulties in 
     securing fetal tissue for research. One lab reported: We used 
     to receive fetal tissue once or more every week. Over the 
     past year, the supply of fetal tissue has dwindled and become 
     increasingly unavailable and unreliable--to the point where 
     we can no longer depend on this important resource for our 
     studies.
       Another lab despaired: In the past, our laboratory was able 
     to obtain fetal tissues nearly every week. For the last 
     several months, we have been unable to obtain any fetal 
     tissue. Humanized mouse production has come to a standstill, 
     and we are currently unable to perform research that we hope 
     will lead to cures for human disease.
       Thank you for your interest in our research and the 
     challenges it faces. I hope you find the information provided 
     here responsive to your questions.
                                  ____



                                       McDermott Will & Emery,

                                               September 20, 2016.
     Re Proposed Disclosure of Code Name Dr. Administrator's 
         Deposition Transcript.

     Hon. Marsha Blackburn, Chairman,
     Hon. Jan Schakowsky, Ranking Member,
     House Select Panel on Infant Lives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Blackburn: I am writing today on behalf of my 
     client, the University of New Mexico (``UNM'') with regard to 
     the notice posted by the Select Panel on its website last 
     night of a business meeting on September 21, 2016. The Select 
     Panel has proposed the meeting to consider, among other 
     items, a resolution to release of the deposition transcript 
     of UNM's doctor, code name: Dr. Administrator, who you 
     publicly named in your online notice.
       UNM objects to a vote to release the transcript at this 
     time. The Select Panel would violate its own rules if it 
     released the deposition transcript without having afforded 
     the witness or counsel to review the transcript as required 
     by the governing deposition regulations. See 161 Cong. Rec. 
     E21-01 para.18 (``If a witness's testimony is transcribed, 
     the witness or the witness's counsel shall be afforded an 
     opportunity to review a copy. No later than five days 
     thereafter, the witness may submit suggested changes to the 
     chair.'') In fact, UNM counsel addressed this very issue with 
     the Select Panel majority staff by email as recently as 
     September 12, 2016 and offered to review the transcript in 
     the Select Panel's office and at staff's convenience. See 
     email from UNM Counsel, at Attachment 1. Majority staff never 
     responded to this offer.
       UNM continues to have grave concerns about the Select Panel 
     Majority's repeated, intentional public disclosure of the 
     names of its doctors, first in the Interim Report from July 
     2016, and again in the notice published on the Select Panel's 
     website on September 19, 2016. UNM has asked repeatedly for 
     over six months for assurances that the Select Panel would 
     not disclose the names of its doctors or staff, who UNM has 
     shown are in grave danger of harassment or worse by 
     extremists who oppose their profession. One UNM doctor gave 
     sworn testimony detailing the harassment and threats that 
     this doctor and others have already received, both at their 
     homes and at work. She laid out for the members of the Panel 
     in her deposition why her name and the names of other doctors 
     and staff should not be disclosed. She described the real 
     fear these doctors carry with them each day. At various 
     points your staff provided assurances to UNM counsel that 
     they would take measures to protect the privacy and safety of 
     UNM staff. The most recent and totally unnecessary online 
     publication of a UNM doctor's name directly contravenes all 
     of these assurances.

[[Page H5919]]

       From the very beginning of this inquiry, UNM has expressed 
     its well-grounded concerns regarding the safety and well-
     being of its students, faculty and staff. The potential for 
     harm to these individuals is real and demonstrable. This is 
     evidenced by the deadly attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic 
     in Colorado last year--an attack where the assailant killed, 
     among others, a police officer--as well as the specific death 
     threats recently received by individuals connected to the 
     procurement of fetal tissue. One of those death threats 
     prompted an investigation by the FBI, and the arrest of an 
     individual who made that specific threat. Counsel to UNM 
     expressed these specific concerns repeatedly in 
     correspondence to the Select Panel on January 29, February 
     16, February 19, March 3, April 11, and May 19 of 2016, and 
     in various email correspondence.
       The repeated public disclosure of these names demonstrates 
     a knowing and intentional disregard for the safety of UNM 
     personnel by the Select Panel Majority, who has been on 
     notice since January 2016 of the charged environment 
     surrounding these professionals and the potential danger they 
     face. Going forward, the members of the Select Panel who vote 
     in favor of this resolution to release the deposition 
     transcript will personally bear responsibility for any harm 
     that comes to these individuals.
       UNM requests that if the Select Panel adopts a resolution 
     to release the transcript, whether prematurely in violation 
     of its rules or after UNM has had a chance to review it, that 
     the Select Panel redact the UNM doctor's name from the 
     transcript. The fact that the Select Panel has previously 
     published the doctor's name does not excuse it from an 
     ongoing obligation to avoid endangering UNM staff. Secondly, 
     UNM requests that the Select Panel postpones the disclosure 
     of the transcript by a minimum of a week so that UNM can work 
     with local law enforcement and campus security to put 
     additional security measures in place to protect students and 
     staff.
           Sincerely,
                                                  Stephen M. Ryan.

     

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