Its becoming clear that an investigation into the University of Minnesota’s purchase of aborted fetal tissue is needed. New evidence shows at some point they weren’t just buying from a middle man, but purchasing directly from a Minnesota abortion clinic, a violation of state laws.
When Alpha News broke the story on October 1st about the U’s purchasing of fetal body parts for research, many questions remained. For instance: If the University was conducting legal fetal tissue research, why did they deny the practice when asked in July? A second question: Was the vendor they were using, Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc., getting the body parts from a Minnesota abortion clinic as they had indicated in an undercover video? A third, but probably not the final question: Is the University paying more for the body parts than the cost to prepare and transfer them?
The answers to the second and third questions may explain the first. Because it is a violation state law to not immediately dispose of a human fetus that has reached a significant development stage. It is also against Federal law to profit from the sale of human body parts.
On Thursday Alpha News published MN State Representative Marion O’Neill’s letter to the University’s board of Regents.
On Monday morning Rep. O’Neill confirmed that Dr. Brian Herman, Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota, told her that the University– at some point– had procured fetal parts directly from Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic in Minneapolis. An email from Rep. O’Neil to Alpha News Reporter Julia Erynn reads: “If you wanted to know if Brian Herman told me that the U used to obtain aborted fetal tissue from Meadowbrook in Minneapolis, yes, he told me that.”
Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic in Minneapolis merged with another local abortion clinic in 2013 and now works under the banner of Whole Women’s Health Clinic, which is based in Texas. Whole Woman’s Health operates one clinic in Minnesota located in Minneapolis and offers abortions for up to 24 weeks gestation. The clinic’s surgical abortion consent form states, “I understand that the fetal tissue removed during the abortion will be disposed of, following legal and health guidelines.”
The law in Minnesota states that aborted babies and their remains must be disposed of in a “dignified” manner. Specifically, statute 145.1621 states that:
Hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities in which abortions are induced or occur spontaneously or accidentally and laboratories to which the remains of human fetuses are delivered must provide for the disposal of the remains by cremation, interment by burial, or in a manner directed by the commissioner of health.
The Minnesota Department of Health also refers back to this law in its regulations and requirements, specifically stating that the remains of an aborted fetus are to be buried or cremated. A 2013 report on induced abortions to the legislature showed that remains were cremated for 5,616 abortions that occurred in Minnesota in 2012, only 22 were buried, and 5,063 were not reported. Minnesota requires reporting on disposal method for remains of a “human being that has reached a stage of development so that there are cartilaginous structures, fetal or skeletal parts after an abortion.” Therefore, early 1st trimester abortions are not included in the requirement.
But the University’s purchase order records, which Alpha News posted, show 13-24 week fetal body organs being purchased, which would require disposal via cremation or burial.
In addition to the disposal law, Minnesota state statute 525.A.02, which covers organ tissue donation, specifically excludes the use of organs from aborted fetuses. “An embryo or fetus that has died of natural causes in utero” may be donated.
Three weeks ago, Alpha News reached out to Evan Lapiska, Public Relations Director for the University’s Office of the President and Board of Regents, to inquire about the University’s relationship with Whole Women’s Health clinic in order to ascertain whether fetal body parts were coming from the Minnesota abortion provider. The question was based on a statement that the company’s spokeswoman, Fatimah Gifford, made to the Houston Chronicle, that Whole Women’s Health is affiliated with research institutions, but not in the state of Texas. Lapiska replied that the University was looking into the relationship back on September 30th, and provided no further answers. Lapiska didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.
There is an undeniable relationship between the U and WWH, as Dr. Carrie Terrell, a U of MN physician, also serves as the medical director for both Whole Women’s Health Minneapolis abortion clinic and the University’s Women’s Health Specialty Clinic. University medical students are offered an elective rotation for abortion training at Whole Women’s Health. Whether there are any formal or informal arrangements made between the University and Whole Women’s Health to procure fetal body parts for research would likely only be revealed in a state investigation to ascertain whether the fetal remains disposal and organ donation laws are being followed. Tax dollars are paying for the research, and in some cases funding the abortions, which raises other ethical questions for the University.
Planned Parenthood has denied participating in any fetal tissue donation programs in Minnesota, but there is now more evidence that Whole Women’s Health Clinic is a source of aborted fetal organs to Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. which in turn sold them to the University of Minnesota. Is the Minnesota abortion provider selling fetal body parts to customers outside the state as well?