Now, Democrats are calling out Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for her “reckless disregard” for the privacy and safety of those medical professionals — following the public, unredacted release of the some of their names.
“This Panel has shown a reckless disregard for protecting private information and now a troubling possibility has come to light,” Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky said in a press statement. “Inexplicably, anti-abortion activists have learned of confidential information provided to the Panel — raising the specter that the Republicans may be funneling confidential information back to those individuals and groups.”
Democrats on the committee have long warned that the investigation was ignoring important rules around privacy and putting doctors and researchers at risk — or, in the words of Rep. Jarrod Nadler (D-NY), “effectively painting targets on the backs of scientists and researchers for no particular reason other than the Republicans’ desire for a culture war.”
Last week, Blackburn sent two public letters to the Obama administration that contained the unredacted names and contact information of researchers at the biomedical company StemExpress, university and hospital researchers, and Planned Parenthood staffers. The unredacted letters were also posted on the select panel’s website. In an interview with Rewire, a representative for Blackburn said that the release was staff error.
In March, the House investigation into Planned Parenthood took a dark turn, subpoenaing a list of names of doctors and researchers involved in fetal tissue research. At the time, Democrats on the committee likened it to a witch hunt.