New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced last week he will not prosecute the University of New Mexico and the Southwestern Women’s Options abortion center for their alleged fetal tissue trade, but the university has launched its own internal investigation into the transactions.
In a letter sent Thursday to the U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, Balderas said he found no violation of state law in the transfer of dead babies and their body parts from the abortion facility to the university. His letter came a year after the congressional panel referred the two entities for criminal investigation.
Profiting from fetal tissue transfer violates state law, but Balderas’ letter stated “there is no evidence that any of the donated fetal tissue was used for any purpose other than research and education.”
New Mexico Alliance for Life director Elisa Martinez said in a statement it “is shameful and disgusting that [Balderas] isn’t prosecuting the law on behalf of New Mexico women, and by not even bothering to contact the victims he chose to trust the lawbreakers over trusting women.”
Meanwhile, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is investigating faculty member Robin Ohls for her alleged transfer of fetal tissue from Southwestern Women’s Options to Michigan research company Zietchick Research Institute LLC.
University officials suspended Ohls’ research in October and locked her out of her lab, according to internal documents released to the Albuquerque Journal.
The concealment of its own internal investigation, Martinez said, shows the university “misled the public and protected the lawbreakers in the midst of systemic violations of laws and regulations.” She urged the FBI to “take immediate steps to obtain all documents and investigate the ongoing multiple violations” between the university and the abortion center.
At least one woman has sued Southwestern Women’s Options for concealing its relationship with researchers at the University of New Mexico. —S.G.