Democrats call for disbanding Blackburn’s abortion panel

Democrats have ramped up their attacks on an investigation of abortion providers by a committee lead by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter, Democrats called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the investigation committee. Blackburn insists there’s nothing partisan about the investigation and she’s pushing ahead.

“While the panel’s investigation has never been fair or fact-based, its pattern of reckless disregard for safety has escalated over the past few weeks,” said the letter, which was signed by 181 of 188 House Democrats.

The letter describes a litany of alleged abuses by Blackburn and GOP investigators, including misuse of subpoena power to intimidate scientific researchers, doctors, clinics, health-care providers, universities and others. The investigation reached “a new low” earlier this month, the letter says, when the panel issued a news release identifying an abortion provider and his clinic by name.

“The press release’s hyperbolic rhetoric and misleading allegations pose a real danger to the doctor, the staff at the clinic and the patients of the named clinic,” the letter says. “These recent steps are completely outside the bounds of acceptable congressional behavior. We disgrace ourselves by allowing this misconduct to continue.”

Blackburn defended the investigation and fired back at her Democratic critics.

“The question everyone should be asking,” the Brentwood Republican said, “is why are Democrats so afraid of letting the truth come out.”

Ryan didn’t set up the committee, which is formally known as the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Former House Speaker John Boehner helped form the 14-member panel and named Blackburn as its chairwoman in one of his final acts before stepping down late last year.

But Ryan also has given his backing to the panel’s work.