A middleman in the market for fetal tissue has dropped its lawsuit against the pro-life journalists who accused it of partnering with Planned Parenthood to profit from the sale of baby body parts from abortions.
StemExpress, which was referred by Congress for criminal investigation last week, dropped its lawsuit against David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday, one day before an appellate hearing was set to take place on a motion to strike the complaint.
Charles LiMandri, president of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which represents the CMP, said the timing of the dismissal is telling.
“The dismissal of this lawsuit, on the eve of an important hearing and in the wake of criminal referrals, shows that StemExpress’s time is up,” Mr. LiMandri said in a statement. “[CEO] Cate Dyer and StemExpress would pay $55 for a fetal brain, and then turn around and sell it for $3,340. If you do that, you can hire a lot of attorneys to show up propaganda lawsuits aimed — not at vindicating legal rights — but at influencing public opinion.”
In its final report released last week, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives made 15 criminal and regulatory referrals, six of which concerned StemExpress.
It referred StemExpress to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for further investigation to determine whether and to what extent the company profited from the sale of fetal tissue from abortions.
The investigation also found StemExpress may have violated federal privacy laws based on its collaboration with abortion clinics in the harvesting of fetal tissue.
StemExpress technicians knew about clinic abortion schedules in advance, the report said, and communicated with clinics while abortions were taking place in order to procure certain types of fetal tissue, presumably before patient consent had been obtained. The report said these practices were aimed at maximizing profit and may have violated federal HIPAA regulations.
Additionally, the panel said StemExpress may have violated federal laws barring the destruction of documents pertinent to congressional inquiries.
StemExpress ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood after the CMP videos surfaced 18 months ago. It maintained any expenses associated with the trade for fetal tissue were reimbursements for transfer and storage costs.
The report said Planned Parenthood and StemExpress claimed the same expenses associated with the transfer of fetal tissue.
Congressional Republicans have vowed to include a provision defunding Planned Parenthood in the reconciliation legislation repealing Obamacare, which could be voted upon as early as next month.
A lawsuit Planned Parenthood brought against Mr. Daleiden is still pending.
“Hopefully, when Congress removes Planned Parenthood’s $500 million annual tax revenue stream, we’ll see Planned Parenthood rethinking the merit of its own propaganda lawsuit against David Daleiden and CMP,” Mr. LiMandri said.