The US House of Representatives voted on Dec. 1 to double funding for its ”Select Panel on Infant Lives,” which is investigating the way abortion providers handle fetal tissue.
The panel, created in 2015 and made up of 14 lawmakers, has spent more than $790,000 looking into this issue. Republicans called for an additional $800,000 in funding before the group concludes its work at the end of the year, bringing the total up to nearly $1.6 million. Democrats had hoped to eliminate the panel altogether. The measure to increase funding passed along party lines, 234 to 181.
“Instead of funding it, let’s be done with this once and for all,” said Democratic representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who serves on the panel. Schakowsky said, USA Today reports, that the investigation was “built on a pack of lies perpetuated by anti-abortion extremists” and said the panel’s proceedings were a “divisive and dangerous inquisition.” Panel chairwoman Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, has characterized those same proceedings as holding government accountable and stopping “affronts to human dignity.”
The panel was created last year after anti-abortion activists released undercover videos that they alleged showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetus parts. Planned Parenthood denies any wrongdoing. Based on its investigations, which abortion activists characterize as an effort to intimidate people involved with fetal tissue research, the panel has made a number of referrals for criminal charges. Schakowsky has described those referrals as “bogus.”
The panel’s full findings are expected at the end of the year.