Matsui Leads over 50 Democratic Women in Calling on Speaker Ryan to Cease Attacks on Women's Health and Medical Research

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Washington, DC, January 6, 2017 | comments
Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), and 58 of her House Democratic women colleagues sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to put an end to practices such as those deployed in the 114th Congress by the Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health. On December 30, House Republicans on the Panel issued a partisan report containing baseless claims against Planned Parenthood and companies engaged in life-saving medical research. In total, the Select Panel spent nearly $1.6 million taxpayer dollars pursuing damaging allegations against Planned Parenthood, but found no evidence of wrongdoing by health care providers, researchers, or tissue procurement companies. The full text of the letter can be found below: January 6, 2017 The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker of the House H-232, United States Capitol Washington, DC 20515 Dear Speaker Ryan: House Republicans spent the last Congress wasting nearly $1.6 million in taxpayer dollars on the Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health that did nothing but undermine the health of our nation’s families. The only thing House Republicans produced was a baseless partisan report containing no evidence of wrong doing. Yet the damage from this assault on our medical community will be far reaching. What started off as an attack on women’s health became a threat to every one of us. Not so long ago, polio was a real danger and paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children every year. As a result of the development and dissemination of a vaccine, polio has been nearly eradicated and parents no longer have to fear this disease. Researchers used fetal tissue in the original development of the vaccine that has now saved thousands of lives worldwide. Today, fetal tissue is critical in the production of vaccines for diseases that would still otherwise plague our children, including chickenpox, rubella, shingles, rabies, and hepatitis A. Do we really want to risk exposing our children to these preventable diseases? What was an attempt to get between a woman and her doctor became yet another Republican attack on science. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has legally and safely funded biomedical research using fetal tissue for decades. In 2014, the NIH funded 164 projects using the tissue, with the majority of projects focusing on infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS. Understanding disorders of the brain is elusive and scientists are working to better understand the diseases that plague it, including autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. Fetal tissue research offers hope for our understanding of brain development and advances for these diseases. Do we want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease that took nearly 100,000 lives and $236 billion across the country just this past year? The potential for biomedical research developments doesn’t stop there. Fetal tissue research is used to address everything from diabetes, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injury, macular degeneration, stroke, arthritis cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia. What began as an attempt to demonize Planned Parenthood has created a climate of fear among our nation’s researchers working to cure and prevent diseases. Of the scientists working on the 164 NIH projects using fetal tissue, only two would speak to the scientific journal, Nature, when they inquired for a story published in December 2015. One research center even said their researcher could not talk to Nature due to concerns for his or her safety. The Select Panel to Attack Women’s Health employed every scare tactic in the book. Their baseless requests for documents and inaccurate claims harmed real people and companies. By referring the CEO of StemExpress to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress, Chairman Blackburn jeopardized the well-being of a company attempting to contribute to our scientific knowledge and threatened the success of other medical researchers and scientists. It was irresponsible, misinformed, and will have lasting consequences. Speaker Ryan, instead of promoting a culture of fear we should be encouraging and investing in research and innovation that promotes the health and welfare of all Americans. We urge you to oppose any efforts to attack women’s health in the 115th Congress. Sincerely, Doris Matsui, Alma Adams, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Karen Bass, Joyce Beatty, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Julia Brownley, Cheri Bustos, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, Katherine Clark, Yvette Clarke, Susan Davis, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Debbie Dingell, Anna Eshoo, Elizabeth Esty, Lois Frankel, Marcia Fudge, Tulsi Gabbard, Colleen Hanabusa, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Robin Kelly, Ann McLane Kuster, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Carolyn Maloney, Betty McCollum, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Grace F. Napolitano, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Chellie Pingree, Stacey Plaskett, Carol Shea-Porter, Kathleen M. Rice, Jacky Rosen, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda T. Sánchez, Jan Schakowsky, Terri A. Sewell, Louise Slaughter, Jackie Speier, Dina Titus, Norma Torres, Niki Tsongas, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Frederica S. Wilson

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