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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  March 4, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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local news, colorado football games and generally feel like they're a part of the state. and so we should work with this market modification process that you made available to us in the stellar reauthorization act to try to make that happen. >> and thank you. and thank you for being there as well. anybody else? i know i'm out of time, mr. chairman. thank you. >> thanks, senator gardner. senator daines. >> thank you. it's exciting to talk about new technologies and how the u.s. can truly remain a leader in innovation. i know we chat a little about overbuilding, about efficiencies and so forth. and thanks for the support too on the dig once amendment. i think that's a step forward. we ought to be looking at as well to expand that. chairman wheeler, you've often talked about they're well managed and efficient. i certainly agree but then i see commissioner awarding money to areas and sbis that already have
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fiber insisting we upgrade speeds in urban areas while certainly for many of us looking and working and representing rural areas, we are underserved. can you say that is an efficient use of universal funds? and should the commission be focusing on areas that have no connectivity like many areas in montana and for members here on this committee? >> no and yes. so, no, it is not an efficient use of funds to subsidize competition. and that's not something that should be going on. can we do something about it? yes. and i believe we are. just one of the issues i know you and i have talked about and other members of the committee is the mobility fund. and we're going to come out with a new proposal for how we fill -- would you call those the high fat donut holes or something -- >> unhealthy donut holes.
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but we've got to do that in a way where it does not subsidize the donut that's got competition. we've got at least four licensees who are not covering that donut hole. we want to make sure that we support one of them, one. to fill the hole. but not to take that money and compete with the others around. and that's going to be an art form. but that's something that we're hard at work at. >> that plays important for rural states where we are dependent on small businesses. i have a small business myself. a lot of the commission's recent proposals from net neutrality rules to the set top box proposal seem disproportionately impact small businesses who do not have hallways full of complaints staff. in fact, i hear more than anything else from small business owners about the
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compliance burdens that they routinely face. and i want to thank, by the way, four of the commissioners here who've been to montana i think in the lastñm,fñ six months. i think we can put you on the payroll for a month in the chamber of commerce. you get the quality of life draw. and that is an important part of how we can drive this economy. commissioner o' reilly, you've visited montana. many of these businesses only have a handful of employees, do not have armies of lawyers to wade through the thousands of pages of regulations. do you agree it's reasonable to exempt small businesses from some of these regulatory burdens such as enhanced transparency rules? >> absolutely. and i know you have legislation on this front. i know there's legislation considered in the house on this front. but we -- my colleague and i, commissioner pai, have articulated a viewpoint this should have been addressed by the commission. it wasn't sufficiently in our opinion. this should be something we can do. and your legislation would
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adequately and properly address this. >> commissioner pai, is that common sense? can we stratify this to a certain degree? it's an overused term in d. c. one size doesn't fit all but i think it makes sense for these small businesses. >> particularly in this obama administration and small business and everybody who submitted a comment suggested this burden was undue and the agency should relieve them of that. >> commissioner rosenworcel. >> i agree with my colleagues on the right. this is something we can do at the agency. we have exempted small businesses from the transparency rule for the next year. >> it's regulation uncertainty. it's the one-two punch. thanks for that added piece. trying to provide certainty here for small businesses. i want to pivot over to broadcasting. chairman wheeler, you've clearly prioritized unlicensed spectrum
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in the upcoming incentive auction. under the current proposal it's not clear that some low power stations and translaters will be even able to stay on the air. this is a big, big deal certainly back home whachlt assurances can you give to these small businesses who may be forced off the air and to the montana communities who rely on translators to receive their broadcast signals, including the denver broncos? >> so -- thank you, senator. as i indicated before, we don't really know what the auction is going to produce. i think at the impact in areas like montana will be different than the impact in other parts of the country, and that's a saving grace for you. but what we have done is to say for low power television we will make special efforts even though it was never addressed gnat
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statute and specifically there was no priority or dealing with a low priority challenge. we said we will help them find new channels. we will help them share and in fact that sharing may end up with class a status. this is something we've heard you loud and clear. i know that it is a matter of angst because people don't know until they know. but when we know we're ready to spring to action. >> scared to death also works back in montana. thanks for that, chairman. appreciate it. >> thank you, senator daines, senator peters. >> thanks for the commissioners to being here today and for your leadership each and every day. chairman wheeler, i certainly enjoyed our recent discussion in my office regarding the testing plan for the fcc is leading with the department of transportation, the ntia to
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determine whether the 5.9 gig hertz band can be opened for shared wi-fi use. as commissioners have heard me say how important this is for our auto industry and in particular for saving lives where we know these applications will save tens of thousands of lives. we're on the cusp of real cutting edge technology in that area. we want to do it right and move forward with due speed and also with the understanding of how important this technology is as a life saving technology. so i look forward to continuing to work with you as we ensure the three-part testing plan is executed both completely and on schedule as well. but i wanted to talk today a little about some of the challenges michigan faces in particular northern michigan and our upper peninsula when it comes to rural broadband access. i hear from constituents who have great skills to contribute to that part of our state. they are working in tech industries, they're in the automotive, advanced
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manufacturing fields. they love the incredible quality of life but they can't because their life depends on dependable broadband access. so over 60 million expanded annually to some of the most rural parts of my state as part of the connect america phase one, but i think we're all aware that the work is far from over. i think it's critical that the fcc support mobile broadband is part of the connect america fund phase two and should strive to be technology neutral so we have a better shot of innovating our way out of this problem. perhaps as a threshold manner we need to ensure the fcc has the best available data to base its multimillion dollar funding decisions. i was pleased to join a number of my colleagues yesterday on a letter led by senator manchin and senator gardner that asked
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the fcc to work with the industry to address the shortcomings in the existing coverage data. if we continue to rely on a map that overstates coverage, we're not going to close the rural gap. and we're going to waste an awful lot of money while trying to do that. a nonprofit in my state, connect michigan, initially received broadband technology opportunities program under the recovery act to develop an accurate and up-to-date statewide broadband map that served as an invaluable resource for residents wanting to know the speed, price and technology base of the broadband service available to them. but also to a service provider industry when looking to determine what those coverage gaps are. connect michigan then supplied that information to the federal government for inclusion in the national broadband map. but those funds have now dried up and connect michigan is piecing together funding and attempting to forge new partnerships to keep critical operations going. so my question to you, chairman wheeler, is i realize some states b top supported broadband
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and data collection and mapping efforts may have been more successful than others, but i'm concerned about the sufficiency of solely using data supplied by carriers to fill in the national broadband map rather than a more granule state collected data that we've used in the past. and i know the fcc is doing work now to collect form 477 data to prepare it for inclusion in the national broadband map. do you think the form 477 data will prove to be more accurate than previous data collection efforts by states and independent third parties? >> thank you very much, senator. the answer is in one word is yes. but we need to think about this through a step process. the first cut -- well, one of the coverage maps the carriers used we've seen in advertising. that didn't work because that's an optimal. that's our franchise. that's our license area.
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secondly, we went out and had folks do drive tests. and that worked in areas where there were roads or at least main roads but didn't work in rural areas. now what we're trying to gather is information out of the 447 is more granule lar. there's one big problem, however, we've been denied funds for the national broadband map for the last two fiscal years. so we can't -- there is no national broadband map that is up-to-date. we've requested it. and the appropriators have axed it. we are looking for other solutions, but that's kind of the reality we find ourselves in. >> well, to get more data i had one suggestion with broad
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support was for federal agencies to work together to create accessible open inventory of assets as well. >> right. >> and i want to commend chairman thune for including language that would create a federal infrastructure database. but i think it's important that the committee also consider the value of further inventivizing stalts and local governments to participate in that database. and in fact i've sponsored an amendment to the mobile now bill that would ask agencies involved to complete a report on this issue. and then report back to this committee within a year. chairman, would you agree -- or do you agree that we would achieve a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of where our broadband infrastructure assets are in the united states of such database not only included federal assets but those owned by state and local governments? >> you cannot manage it if you cannot measure it, sir. i'm for all the more data we can
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possibly get. >> a strong supporter of that amendment. thank you so much. >> thank you, senator peters. i think up next we have an agreement here for senator klobuchar to go next. >> thank you. i'm going to do two minutes and i appreciate senator sullivan letting me go ahead. i understand the commission is close to finalizing action on an order to address a stand alone broadband issue and chairman thune and i have advocated for this. and i want to thank you for that. and quickly, chairman wheeler, how do you expect standalone broadband support to drive rural broadband development? >> i'd like to say through the roof. i think it is going to be very significant because one of the things we all three agreed on is that we have to make sure that the money is not just going into the market but it is going to the broadband holes in the market. and it is filling those areas that today aren't served with broadband. >> okay. very good. and as you know i've been a
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strong proponent of dig once. we're trying to work something out with this committee. do you think dig one's policies are a sensible way to try to facilitate broadband deployment? >> well, yes, ma'am. can i use the line i used while you were out? >> okay. >> we need dig once, climb once, site once. >> okay. very good. and the other questions i'll put on the record. one is on the charter twc merger and just concerned senator lee and i have raised from the content of you -- i know you can't comment and i appreciate the commissioner bringing up the bill that we have on the 911 system that senator fisher and i have introduced with some other senators as well. and always appreciate commissioners work on the dropped call issue and the rest of you as well that continues to concern us in minnesota. so i really appreciate senator
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sullivan your indulgence, thank you very much. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. and you did that in under two minutes. very impressive. it can be done. >> a good example of bipartisanship on the commerce committee here. thank you. i appreciate the commissioners coming and testifying today. you know, as you saw there's been a lot of discussion on the challenges of rural states, i think senator daines' point the combination of rural states and small businesses is a big one that you're all aware of. and as i think you all know that in alaska you kind of have those issues magnified because a lot of our communities don't even have roads that connect each other let alone telecommunications. so i appreciate the focus of all the commissioners, mr. chairman, commissioner rosenworcel i know
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you've been up, can i get a how many have been up to alaska? well, that's great. love to have you back. no, seriously, you can talk about, you know, distance. senator wicker was going through the list of rural states in his question. he forgot us. and i was kind of thinking that, you know, we have burros in alaska that are bigger than mississippi. no offense to senator wicker. anyway, let me follow-up on a couple alaska-specific questions. i want to try and get to a couple more national. mr. chairman, your visit spurred our wire line and wireless server carriers to work together with the fcc to address some of the unique challenges that we have in alaska. and, you know, these carriers are making progress on expanded wire -- wired and wireless
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broadband capabilities. they're going to continue this, as you know some of these deployments are very costly. i think there was some as you and i have talked about recently concern that the -- that you're not considering in the proposal with regard to the national rate of return order a reference to what we're now referring to as the alaska plan that i know you've been working on. the commission has been working on. can you assure me today, and i'd like this from all the commissioners if possible that the commission will act on the alaska plan for rural wire line and wireless services within 60 days of adopting the national rate of return order? just so we have some certainty on that issue. >> thank you, senator. i've got it on the schedule for the second quarter. i hope that we adopt the rate of return order yet this month. i'm trying to do quick math as to moves us into early second
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quarter, it may be more like mid second quarter, but i intend to have this before my colleagues in the second quarter. >> so no later than second quarter? >> yes, sir. >> can i get that from all the commissioners? it's a very important issue for my constituents. >> yes. and i will also point out that in the current rate of return decision we have before us i've actually asked for the alaska issues to be addressed right now. >> i appreciate that. >> recognizing there's rural and -- >> that would be ideal. but if we can and you and i have talked about it, mr. chairman, that would be the best kind of second order effect if we can get a no kidding second quarter, you know, drop dead date for in terms of certainty is very important. >> no kidding, yes, sir. >> right. can i get that from all the other commissioners? just a yes or no on that. >> yes. >> yes, absolutely. >> absolutely. >> great. thank you. let me just -- going back to
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certainty again. senator peters talked about the connect america fund phase two. and again, although that deployment started for cat phase two last september, the fcc is yet to public an order for the alaska's price cap carrier who submitted a detailed plan over a year ago for using to support to deploy broadband to the thousands of unserved alaskan households there. can you provide me a timeline when you think the commission is going to complete its work setting up the terms of a caf phase two for the alaska price cap carrier? >> yes, sir. and in my thinking the two roll together and these are both second quarter. >> okay. and is that -- again, i don't need to get it from everybody, but if the chairman agrees that's the timeline, i think that's important. >> yes. >> yes. >> yes. >> great. let me ask just -- this is kind
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of broadening out. commissioner o' reilly, i want to ask in a final question but really any of the commissioners can mention it, commissioner rosneworcel, you mentioned this in your testimony, but the issue of streamlining the infrastructure permitting process. it clearly impacts alaska, particularly on federal lands of which we have, you know, over 60% of our lands are federal. but it's really important to help as you know encourage and deploy new technologies to not burden them. can you give us a sense -- first of all, is there consensus on the commission that this is something that we need to do? it seems to me it's kind of a no-brainer, and yet the challenges of this broader infrastructure deployment issue, we would be very, very
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interested in your suggestions on how to streamline the permitting process so we can make sure that as you've mentioned earlier in your testimony, you know, the infrastructure on the ground gets in in time so the technology is not moving way past it. so i would welcome any thoughts that you might have on this broader issue, which i think is not just an issue for alaska. i think it's an issue for the whole country. but it's a particular issue for states, a lot of the rural states represent on this committee that have a lot of federal land as well. >> yes, senator. so i have put forward a number of different ideas i think would be helpful to facilitate infrastructure building and deployment going forward. i will just highlight with you on a number of things that we can do at the commission and are doing and we are pushing the envelope in the legislation that this congress has as approved in the past but i will suggest to you the flip side of this is it may require more legislation. and it may require more preemption, which i know is not a great word to use, but from folks in the senate, but it u
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something that is probably going to be necessary when you're talking about small cells intensification, it is work that is going to be necessary. and we've had localities -- i know there's -- i referenced one in a speech in florida where they put up a monopoll and a couple weeks later they made the company pull it down. either you want broadband or you don't. we all agree we want it, so we're going to have to figure out how to get the infrastructure out there and sometimes displaces locality decisions. >> commissioner rosenworcel, on the issue of federal lands. >> yeah, federal lands are one-third of our national real estate. and they are some of the slowest places to deploy broadband. i know in the middle class tax relief and job creation act this committee had a section that required federal authorities to have a master contract for deploying infrastructure on federal facilities. i think the next step, if i could ask this committee to take it, would be to actually require federal authorities to use that contract. it's the missing piece.
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and were we able to do that we would be able to harmonize those contracts on one-third of our federal -- of our national real estate and federal lands. >> you don't have the preemption issue. >> exactly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator sullivan, senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. everybody on this panel has provided very distinguished service to our country. thank you for that service and for you being here today. and all of you i know are familiar with the abuse of cramming, which is the unscrupulous practice of wireless carriers allowing third parties to add charges on monthly bills without authorization without even consent or knowledge sometimes of consumers. commissioner rosenworcel i want to thank you for your visits to
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connecticut, your native state in hartford to join me several times to discuss this abuse and to announce refunds that are going back to consumers as a result of the commission's good work. at the fcc hearing about a year ago i raised the mobile cramming issue and asked several of you if you would commit to an fcc rule making to apply the conditions to the whole market, which i think are very important to protecting consumers long after the consent decrees expire, the consent decrees are good, but all carriers should be required to protect consumers from deceitful practices and stop anyone from profiting from them. so i'd like to ask each of you again to open a rule making on wireless cramming and ask whether you will commit
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individually to that rule making. commission commissioner clyburn? >> yes, i would be open to any framework that would allow customers to gain control and for us to have more tools at our disposal to protect them. it's a very serious issue as you mentioned, yes. >> i am more specific on favor rules cramming that raise a number of different items. i believe it's very important -- and we've had the opportunity and just haven't done it. >> senator, to be clear the power to initiate the rule making resides first and foremost with the chairman. if and when he presents a proposal certainly give it the careful scrutiny it di serves. it's a critical issue. >> yes. thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear with you to discuss this back in my home state. cramming is fraud. it's digital age pickpocketing. and it's good that we've had consent decrees with carriers that have allowed it to occur, but it would be a lot better to prevent it from occurring in the first place. >> yes.
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>> mr. chairman. >> yes, and is there if i may ask you, chairman wheeler, is there a factor that's holding back the beginning of rule making? >> not really, sir. i mean, this is frankly resources and timing issue. i would point out as i know you are well aware, you know, that we took an enforcement action on this against four major carriers for about a quarter of a billion dollars, most of which went into consumers' pockets. not into any treasury any place. and so we are vigilant on the issue. and the interesting thing is that you can do that absent a rule because the statute is clear. but if there is a need for rules as well, then we ought to have them. >> thank you. i'm well aware of those enforcement actions and commend you for -- that was the reason
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for the various meetings that commissioner rosenworcel and i simply to make consumers aware that they need to claim the refund. i want to in the short time i have left talk about the enforcement bureau. >> yes, sir. >> which i think is a critical part of the fcc as a former prosecutor i know that folks caught breaking the law aren't always happy about it. and they make various claims like lack of due process, so not surprised to see that happening in objections to the enforcement bureau catching people who break the law. i think in many instances it's really that simple. and i hear from constituents all the time about unexpected increases in their monthly cable
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bills to never ending robo calls that harass them even though they're on the do-not-call list to all kinds of other abuses and violations of law that the enforcement bureau pursues. so i want to commend the enforcement bureau for its good work. and say to you, ask you what may appear to be a rhetorical question but just for the record in terms of due process, enforcement bureau now provides for companies to respond or challenge a forfeiture, does it not? >> yes, sir. >> and there are opportunities for companies to appeal a commission decision to the federal court system, are there not? >> yes, sir. >> and companies frequently and abundantly take advantage of that right? >> yes, sir. >> and in terms of resources,
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could the enforcement bureau benefit from additional resources? >> yes, sir. >> thank you. >> can i just add one thing though? >> of course. >> because everybody thinks about enforcement in terms of penalties. the fact of the matter is if you have done something wrong, there should be logical consequences. but we're also protecting those who do things right. that the most anticompetitive activity that exists in the market today is when your competition cheats. and so this is not just a you need to have a logical consequence for your bad action. this is a how do we make sure that the good guys aren't being penalized by the actions of the
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bad guys. and so enforcement is a very important procompetitive tool. >> i think you have just made one of the central points about consumer protection because the good guys are the vast, vast majority of businesses. and what these rules do, laws, regulations, rules, is essentially protect good guys in business from the unfair competition of people who break the law, try to cut corners and thereby cut costs and undercut their competition. so in a certain sense -- and i made this about antitrust enforcement, about consumer protection enforcement, it is in a long-term sense pro business, pro jobs because it enables people who play by the rules to have a level playing field. >> yes, sir. >> and i think that of course
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wise enforcement depends on wise enforcers and the enforcement bureau having enough resources to make good decisions about how to enforce the law. but i think your central point is very well taken. thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. i think senator nelson has a -- >> just a quick question. given the fact that the most important call that a person may make is 911, tell me, what's your plan on the next generation of 911 and what you think we should do? >> thank you, senator. i think we have taken the 911 issue about as far as we can take it and now comes to this congress. we have just sent to this committee the recommendations of a year-long task force on next
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generation 911. it is my understanding that the 911 providers themselves are in the process of specifically turning that into here's what is needed in terms of specific legislation. but i fear that this is something -- i was involved in the 1999 911 act that made it a national number. and i think it's going to take once again congress stepping up with a national policy on 911. >> thank you, senator nelson. the only thing standing between you all and a restroom break is senator markey and myself. >> i like the sequencing because then it's just you. i like that. so, thank you, mr. chairman. on february 26th of last year we opened the next chapter in the
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history of american innovation. and that's because on february 26th what will always be known as internet freedom day, the fcc stood up for net neutrality and reclassified broadband service under title 2 of the communications act. it was a major victory for our consumers, for our economy and for democracy because that day was a day where the fcc stood up for the best ideas, not merely the best funded ideas. and we thank you for being on the right side of history. and so what happened in 2015 then in the united states? as the fcc promulgated those net neutrality rules. well, nearly 68% of all venture capital funds invested in the united states went towards internet specific and software
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companies in 2015. so congratulations, fcc. you know, you created this engine of innovation and capital flow into these new companies, the smart companies, the innovative companies. and it's clear that the fcc got this right. and there's a lot of other places you can put venture capital money, but with 68% of it goes towards that sector, then we've got what young people in colleges and graduate schools all across america want to do. they want to continue to innovate. and what you've done is make it a lot easier for them to do so. so what i like to do then, mr. chairman, if i could just ask you a couple of questions. the first is, is it unusual for an independent agency to communicate with the white house? >> no, sir. >> is it typical for an independent agency to communicate with the white house? >> communicate with the white house, congress and everybody. >> have other presidents weighed
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in on fcc rule making since the fcc's founding in 1934? >> yes, sir. >> do you have any lists of those that come to your mind you think might have acted during that time? >> well, i happen to remember one time when president reagan called chairman fowler to the oval office. and i remember that story because i happened to be around at that point in time. >> i remember that story very well. and i don't begrudge, you know, president reagan wanting to do that. but i do remember that extremely well. i didn't agree with chairman fowler on much, but i did appreciate the fact that president can't talk to someone in the -- serving during his administration. did the fcc follow the process used by both democrat and republican commissions when crafting the open internet order? >> the process has remained unchanged, senator. >> so i want to make clear the fcc has done precisely what
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congress intended the commission to do, classified broadband internet access service according to its best understanding of the technology of that day and how consumers use that technology. and i am confident that that is how you are proceeding. and i thank you for that. i thank the commission for that. i'm also pleased with the recent steps that the fcc has taken to increase consumer privacy protections as part of the commission's correct decision last year to reclassify broadband title two the commission widely chose to apply section 222 to broadband extending the duty to protect the privacy of information that internet service providers collect about their customers because of the unique carrier-customer relationship. i believe an isp has a duty to protect the privacy of consumers who use the company's wired and
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wireless infrastructure to connect to the world. senators booker and blumenthal and i have written to the commission urging the commission to initiate a rule making to protect the privacy of consumers who use the broadband. and i do believe you should have a comprehensive definition of customer proprietary network information, ensure transparency, require consumer consent if the information's going to be reused so their privacy is protected. and protect consumers' information by requiring isps to implement strong data security measures. can you give us an idea, mr. chairman, on when you plan on moving forward on rule making on broadband privacy? >> i hope it's very soon. and that includes this month. >> that includes this month. excellent. and i also sent you with other
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senators a letter on the proposed acquisition of time warner cable and brighthouse networks by charter communications. and my hope would be that the commissioner would look at it ensuring that the guiding principles are competition, competition, competition as you have said repeatedly, mr. chairman, and that you ensure it gets the kind of review that ensures that the proper protections are in place for the competitive marketplace which we need. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator markey. just a couple of final points i'd like to make. one is i want to say that as i mentioned earlier that this committee will be marking up the bipartisan mobile now act tomorrow which will help advance wireless innovation and deployment, a key provision of ranking member nelson's and my
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bill focuses on the high frequency millimeter wave bands that are going to be critical for next generation 5g wireless services. and so our legislation intentionally builds upon the good work that the commission is doing in its spectrum frontiers proceeding. so i was glad to hear earlier today that chairman wheeler expects this order by summer. chairman wheeler, you've been quoted as saying that in the year that you have left in this job every time that you appear before the congress a number one item that you will talk about is the absolute necessity of congress dealing with the issues in next generation 911. that's a quote. and actually that was your prepared testimony i think follows up on that intent. >> yes, sir. >> we've also recently seen an increase in organized stakeholder advocacy on this issue, which echoes your concerns. will you be receiving -- i'm
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going to say -- let me rephrase that, you will be receiving questions from the commerce committee in the coming days as we look more deeply into this issue. so the question is do i have your commitment that you'll cooperate with this committee by responding fully and in a timely manner? >> you bet. yes, sir. >> very good. thank you. she's not going to do it? okay. senator cantwell was on her way racing back over here, but i don't think she's going to make it. so thank you all very much for your time today. and i know it's been a lengthy hearing, but a lot of our members as you can see have great interest in the issues before the commission. because the committee may take up legislation to reauthorize the commission in the very near future the hearing record will remain open through close of business this friday. during this time senators are asked to submit any questions for the record upon receipt the witnesses are asked to submit written answers to the committee by friday march 11th. this concludes the hearing. thank you all. we're adjourned.
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the american conservative union is holding its annual conservative political action conference this week at maryland's national harbor. all the remaining republican
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presidential candidates were set to speak at the event, but just getting word this afternoon that donald trump has decided to skip his appearance. he was originally scheduled to address the group tomorrow morning. in response to the news, cpac had this to say on twitter, very disappointed donald trump has decided at the last minute to drop out of cpac, his choice sends a clear message to conservatives. our coverage of cpac continues later this evening with former republican presidential candidate carly fiorina. she'll speak to the conference at 9:00 eastern. that will be live on c-span. and republican presidential candidate marco rubio speaks to cpac tomorrow. we'll have his remarks live at 11:35 a.m. eastern also on c-span. this weekend the c-span cities tour hosted by our time warner cable partners takes you to anaheim, california, to
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explore the city's history and literary culture. on book tv -- >> the idea for ask a mexican actually came from my editor at the o.c. weekly at the time. i wasn't offended by the idea of ask a mexican, but i didn't want to do it at first because i didn't think anyone would care. in journalism you want to do stories that people will care about, one way or another. you don't care if people like you or hate you as long as they're reading you. i thought, who's going to want to read an advice column about a mexican. seemed so silly. but he kept insisting we needed to fill in a space in the paper that week. so i'm like, okay, fine, i'll go back. and he said it's only going to be one time. it's going to be a satirical column, jokey, people went nuts for it. some people loved it. some people hated it. more importantly people were caring and even crazier at the bottom of the column since it was supposed to be a joke column i put, hey, you got a spicy question about mexicans, ask me. i'm the mexican and put my personal e-mail. people called me on my bluff and started sending in questions
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like crazy immediately. >> and on american history tv. >> john froling and his partner go up to san francisco, which is where a lot of the german immigrants are located and actually are able to -- i find it very shocking, but are able to convince 50 people of whom nobody was a farmer and only one person had any background in wine making to give up their businesses and come to anaheim. so their first action after they form what's known as the los angeles vineyard society, was to hire george hanson to be their superintendent. and his job was to bring the irrigation here, lay out the town site and plant actually hundreds of thousands of grapevines before the families would actually even come down here. >> watch the c-span cities tour saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv. and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3.
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the c-span cities tour working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. book tv has 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend. and here's some of the programs to watch for this weekend. on saturday night at 10:00 eastern. >> well, the first sentence of the book is, the history of american conservatism is a story of disappointment and betrayal. >> afterwards with syndicated columnist e.j. dionne he discusses history of politics why the right went wrong. conservatism from goldwater to tea party and beyond. he's interviewed juan williams co-host of "the five." and sunday in depth live with author and journalist jane mayer. her most recent book is dark money. join in the conversation. we'll be taking your phone
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calls, tweets and e-mails from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern. watch book tv all weekend every weekend on c-span2, television for serious readers. the house energy and commerce committee select investigative panel on infant lives convened its first hearing on the bioethical tissue for research. witnesses included bioethics professors and biomedical experts. >> our investigative panel will come to order. and the chair recognizes herself for five minutes for an opening statement. i want to welcome all of our witnesses who are here today. and i'm going to introduce each of our witnesses in a moment. and i look forward to hearing the testimony from each of you on bioethics and fetal tissue. the last decade has produced
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tremendous change in medical research and therapies. we are in the middle of a biotechnology revolution. certainly in my home state of tennessee this is evident and even today we have members of biotennessee who are on the hill. each week an announcement from this industry presents a new therapy or a new tool or a new possibility in the search for life saving cures for diseases and afflictions that cause untold pain and suffering. new words have entered our vocabulary. three-parent children. crisper gene editing and bioenformatics. words like organ transplant or tissue rejuvenate might eventually reconstitute entire
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organs from adult stem cells. in a word, things really are moving quite quickly. like all revolutions, ethical questions and moral challenges can lag behind, but the moral q can lag behind but the new information in knowledgeable medical science raises important questions. what does it mean? what are the historic principles of do no harm? promoting disinterested decisions by medical professionals and very importantly, addressing the question of human dignity and personhood. ours is not the first era to face such questions. the nuremberg code produced a human rights-based ethics statements after horrible information was revealed abo experimenting on humans without permission. we learned years after it was under way about prisoners in china forced to donate yo are g
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orga organs. we learned about the horrors of forced abortion and testing drugs on the poor and unaware after it had happened. we all remember the horrible reports about the syphilis studies on african-americans or forced sterilization of the mentally challenged years or decades after it happened. last summer's videos revealed something troubling is going on related to fetal tissue and research. the weak, vulnerable, those with no voice harvested and sold. there is something going on and something that deserves investigating, and it demands our best moral and ethical thinking. the first hearing on ethics focuses our attention on procuring and transferring baby body parts and related matters. we will hear from professors who teach ethics from medical program tish flactitioner practitioners, from those who do biomedical research, from those within america's faith traditions so we as legislators might become informed about the ethical implications and issues for a woman who terminates a
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pregnancy, for the researcher, for the person who needs a cure and for the baby. this is then about bioethics. we did not invite our guests here to debate election year politics or journalism ethics, or whether this select panel should be funded. i ask my colleagues to join me in focusing on bioethics so we might hear the best testimony our witnesses have to offer. i welcome each and every one of you and i look forward to hearing from you. at this time, i yield five in minutes to the ranking member of illinois. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to make two key points. first, fetal tissue research has saved millions of lives and has the potential for saving millions more. that's why many republicans have long supported and should continue to support the use of fetal tissue for research purposes.
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second, today's hearing is not part of a serious investigation into fetal tissue research or anything else. 12 states, three congressional committees and a grand jury in texas have already investigated and found no evidence planned parenthood is seeking to profit from the sale of tissue. 7 indeed, the only criminal acts uncovered in the course of these investigations have been those of anti-abortion extremists david deliden who is under indictment for his role in manufacturing the deceptively edited videos that fuelled the republicans' latest attacks on women and their deck taurus. faced with the facts the select panel should have disbanded. instead the chair has embarked on a partisan and dangerous witch hunt. her actions are putting the privacy and safety of americans at risk. over the repeated objection of the democratic members of the panel, the chair has sent dozens of document requests to academic
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institutions, medical schools, and health care providers across the country. she has already issued three unilateral subpoenas demanding the names of individual researchers, graduate students, medical students, doctors, and clinic personnel and is threatening to issue more. there are no rules in place to protect these names from public disclosure. in fact, the chair's staff has made it perfectly clear that any name turned over to the panel may be released to the public. there is no reason to create such a database, and the chair's abuse of her position as chair to compel this information is, frankly, reminiscent of senator joe mccarthy's abusive tactics. we live in a world where researchers who use fetal tissues are compared to nazi war criminals and extremists have tried to burn clinics to the ground. we live in a world where women have to face a gauntlet of harassment to get the health care -- to get health care and where there are threatening
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websites that identify reproductive health care providers, their families, and maps of the location to their clinics and homes. on the day after thanksgiving a gunman drove 60 miles to a planned parenthood clinic in colorado springs, killed three people, injured nine others, and terrorized doctors and patients. and when arrested, he uttered the words "no more baby parts." a phrase that many of my republican colleagues have invoked, both before and after these murders, and in connection with this panel's investigation. linking individual names to an investigation that the republicans describe as examining "the who are vesting" of "baby body parts," and the "horrific" practice of abortion providers puts people in danger. our words and our actions matter. the chair has refused to explain why she needs a database of
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names. as "the washington post" editorial board asked just a few weeks ago, "how is the name of graduate student who five years ago was an intern at a lab relevant to anything?" there is no apparent reason for this other than harassment and intimidation. republicans may not like the fact that abortion is legal and therefore safe for women in this country, but that is no excuse for putting students, researchers, women and their doctors at risk. the democratic members of this committee have repeatedly asked the chair to stop demanding that information. we have proposed reasonable rules that would prevent collection of certain information and otherwise protect the information that we do receive. so far, the chair has ignored our requests. nonetheless, i want to make this very clear to the entities that are under threat of subpoena or contempt from the chair and to every researcher, doctor and woman in america. democrats will continue to fight
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to keep them safe. the unfortunate truth is that this partisan pursuit of the manufactured false allegations of anti-abortion extremists is putting americans in harm's way and it must stop. it is time to turn our attention to ensuring, not attacking, critical medical research and women's access to health care. with that, i request unanimous consent to enter into the record the february 21st, 2015 washington post o'editorial, "the planned parenthood witch hunt." and i yield back the balance of my time. >> and your entry is made without objection. the gentle lady yields back her time. >> i have a parliamentary inquiry. >> state your inquiry. >> madam chair, my colleague and ranking member noted in her opening remarks our concerns about your dangerous and sweeping demands for the names of individual researchers, graduate, medical students,
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doctors and clinic personnel. can you explain what rules govern these demands? >> the answer to your inquiry, we are entitled to the information and we're going to take the necessary -- >> under what rules are you entitled to the information, is my question? >> we are under the jurisdiction of the rules of the house of representatives and the rules of the committee on the energy and commerce. >> very well, further parliamentary inquiry. >> gentleman will state his inquiry. >> if we are under the rules of committee -- committee on energy and commerce, rule 16 of the rules of the energy and commerce committee requires that "the chair shall notify the ranking minority member prior to issuele any subpoena under such authority. to the extent practicable, the chair shall consult with the ranking minority member at least
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72 hours in advance of a subpoena being issued under such authority. the chairman shall report to the members of the committee on the issuance of a subpoena as soon as practicable, but in no event later than one week after issuance of such subpoena." those rules require three things, madam chair. they require you to notify the ranking member in advance. they require you to consult with the ranking member. and to do so 72 hours before issuing a subpoena. and they require you to report within a week to the committee. on friday, february 12th, you told ranking member during votes on house floor that you would be issuing subpoenas the next week. we immediately asked for a meeting to discuss this and for a copy of the subpoena to see what you were requesting. those requests were refused. you then issued subpoenas on the 16th of february, four days after that conversation, and have yet to report on their issuance. madam chair, can you explain what constitutes consultation and reporting within the meaning
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of energy and commerce rule 16? >> energy and commerce committee requires a conversation on the committee's plans, which i did. and i will remind the gentleman the resolution establishing this panel, house resolution 461, stated that rule 11 of the house of representatives and the rules of the committee apply to this panel. further, the rules of the committee on energy and commerce do not require subcommittees and this panel the functional equivalent of a subcommittee are not required to first meet or organize before conducting business. >> madam chair, further parliamentary inquiry. >> proceed with your inquiry. >> whether you have described this low-standing practice, the ranking member made a request to
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see the subpoenas and have a copy of them. the flat refusal even to communicate with democratic members has unfortunately been common place since the outset of this investigation and violates the duty under the rule to consult. with regard to reporting, we have yet to receive any report on the issuance of these subcommittees, including -- and this is critically important -- exactly what information e entities are refusing to produce and how thattent it i is pertinent to this investigation. contrary to your public claims that these entities have not cooperated with the panel, they have in fact done so. they've turned over hundreds of documents and itany disagreemen appears to be your demand they turn over names. to date you have refused to explain how this information is pertinent to the investigation. the recipients of your demand are entitled to this information, as are your democratic and republican colleagues. it is incumbent on you certainly prior to moving to issue or enforce a subpoena to show how the information you demand is
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pertinent to the matters we are investigating. madam chair, will you explain how the names of individual medical or graduate students, researchers, health care providers and clinic personnel are pertinent to this investigation, please? >> no, sir, i am not going to do that. but i will let you know that copies of all the document requests have been made available to the minority. copies of the subpoenas have been made available. and the requirements have been met. and at this point we are going to move on and introduce -- >> no, ma ddam chair, i have on further parliamentary inquiry. i disagree we need a database of names that we can easily get from representatives, persons akin to 30b6 rules of procedure. you have refused to inform the subcommittee to consult with the subcommittee. you should you shall drop the
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demand for names and adopt rules we have proposed which will ensure a more balanced and fair investigation. if you will not change the rules, we should at least obey our current rules. we cannot proceed in flagrant violation of the rules, nor should we proceed with dangerous subpoenas that endanger the lives and physical safety of patients, providers and researchers in a way that could make this committee complicit with any physical assaults on these people or any murders of these people. i therefore move to quash the subpoenas. >> the gentleman is recognized. >> i move to quash the request -- motion. >> the gentleman from pennsylvania moves to table the moti
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motion. gentleman foreign policy pennsylvania has moved to table the motion. the question occurs on approving the motion to table. all those in favor of signifying to table the motion will say aye. all opposed say no. the ayes have it. >> roll call. >> roll call is requested. >> mr. pitts. >> aye. >> mr. pitts, aye. miss black? >> aye. >> miss black, aye. mr. dejong. mr. dejong, aye. mr. duffy, aye. mr. harris.
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aye. miss heaartsler. aye. miss love, aye. miss gentleman jakowski no. mr. nadler, no. mr. gepp, no. miss spear, no. miss dovene, no. miss wattsman coleman. no. >> miss black billion bush. >> aye. >> miss blackburn, aye. >> clerk will report. miss chairman, on that vote there were eight ayes and six nays. >> the motion is tabled. at this time we will introduce
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our first panel. i will ask that our panelists please move to the table as they are called forward. first miss paige comstock cunningham. fellow at the institute for biotechnology and the human future and a trustee of taylor university. dr. gerald donovan. dr. gerald kevin donovan is senior clinical scholar at the kennedy institute of ethics at georgetown university. he is also director of the pellegrino center for clinical bioethics and professor of pediatrics at georgetown. professor alta sharo.
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warren p. knowles professor of bioethics at the university of wisconsin at madison where she is on the faq till of the law school and the department of medical history and bioethics at the medical school. i want to welcome each of you and at this point i would like to make certain that as you are here, you are aware that the selective investigative panel is holding an investigative hearing and will take testimony under oath. do you have an objection to testifying under oath? the chair then advises you that under the rules of the house committee on energy and commerce, you are entitled to be advised by counsel. do you desire to be advised by counsel during your testimony today? thank you. if each of you will stand, be sworn in for your testimony.
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do each of you swear that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. you are now under oath and subject to the penalties set forth in title 18 section 1001 of the u.s. code. you may have eight minutes to make a written summary to provide a statement summary of your written testimony, and we thank each of you for providing that. i'm going to ask that you make sure that your mike is on before you give your testimony. and then that you will turn the mike off when you finish and you will turn it back on when we move to the question portion. dr. donovan, we will begin with
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you for your testimony. >> well, thank you, chairman blackburn. members of the panel, i am pleased to have the opportunity to present testimony regarding the bioethical considerations in the harvesting, transfer and use of fetal tissue and organs. i am a physician, trained in both pediatrics and clinical bioethics. i've spent my entire professional career caring for infants and children. it was this interest and concern that led me to further study in bioethics because i've always been concerned about the most vulnerable patients, those who need others to speak up for them. both at the beginning and at the end of life. i also have significant familiarity with research ethics having spend 17 years as the chair of an irb, though i am myself not a research scientist. the irb is the board that monitors the rightness and wrongness of medical research in order to protect human subjects. we took this aspect of our duty so seriously that i renamed our irb the institutional research
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ethics board. four years ago, i was called by my mentor, dr. edmond pellegrino, to take his place as director at the center for clinical bioethics at georgetown university. our duties include ethics education for medical students and resident physicians, ethics consultation for patients and physicians at the hospital as well as scholarly papers and public speaking. we focus on both clinical ethics, that which directly involves the good of patients, as well as addressing questions which involve right and wrong. this is what we want young physicians to know. medicine is a moral enterprise. our actions have consequences that can be good or bad for patients. we must always focus on the patient's good and avoid doing harm. so what does this mean for the topic at hand. we're talking about bioethics and the fetus. in order to make any moral judgments we would have to be clear on the moral status of the fetus. obviously this is an area in which society has not reached a
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consensus. but that does not mean we cannot make sound judgments on the topic. in a question of biomedical ethics, it is good to start with solid science. what do we know about the fetus with certainty? well, first of all we know that it is alive, that it represents growing, developing cells, tissues and organs, all of in fact, it is the irrefutable humanness of these tissues an
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organs that have made them be of interest to researchers and scientists. so, if a fetus is clearly both alive and human, can we justify taking these tissues and organs for scientific experimentation. if so, under what circumstances and what sort of concept or authorization should be required. in the past century, medicine has made incredible progress resulting from scientific studies involving human tissues and organs resulting in the development of medications, vaccines and the entire field of transplantation medicine. is there any difference between these accomplishments and those that would require the harvesting of body parts and tissues from the fetus? first we'd have to admit that not all scientific experimentation has been praise worthy. studies done by a doctor in germany and by american researchers in guatemala and tuskegee were northerliy lily iy morally abhorrent. no one would want to associate
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our current scientific studies involving the mum fetus with such egregious breaches of research ethics. all that it takes to avoid such a comparison is a consensus on the moral status of the fetus. those who have proceeded with experimentation and research on embryonic and fetal cells, tissues and organs typically have obtained them as the result of an abortion. it is this stark fact that makes such scientific endeavors controversial because they have proceeded without the aforementioned consensus on the moral status of the fetus. because we know that the fetus is alive
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ethical dlemilemma. it is a concept that can be exemplified by the situation faced by a unt hadder when he sees a bush shaking. he may sincerely believe that it is a deer in the bush but if he kills it prior to determining it with certainly what it is he is killing, he will be morally response, as well as legally if he has in fact killed the farmer's cow or worse yet, farmer. as you can see two teamly held but opposie inine ining viewpoit be resolved unless someone tends to act on one of them.
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the one who decides to take the action unless they can be certain their perception of its moral worth is irrefutable. those who would not disturb the normal progression of its life bear no such burden. it is my contention that such proof does not exist and deliberate fetal destruction for scientific purposes should not proceed until it does. moreover without disputingable would point out harvesting it in such a way is unnecessary not only to sell lines already existing -- cell lines, but those that occur from spontaneous miscarriages. this is not a theoretical alternative. georgetown university has a professor who's patented a method to cryo preserve fetal cells from 16 to 20-week gestation miscarriages.
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these are already maintained in our georgetown freezers. the practices of maintaining tissues and organs would go against those donated for transplantation. we follow the strict dead donor rule. it states that vital organs cannot be obtained unless the organ has died a natural death. this is not the case obviously in an induced abortion. moreover such tissues or organs cannot be harvested without the consent of the patient or their proper surrogate. in pediatrics, parents are considered the normal proper surrogate. however, this interpretation rests on the presumption that the parent is acting in the best interests of the individual child. it is difficult to sustain such an interpretation when to the same parent who has just consented to the abortive destruction of that individual fetus from whom those tissues and organs would be obtained. finally, we ared a ed at a diff
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time in our nation's history. we demonstrate much moral being a gut in the approach to the human fetus. we decided we can legally abort the same fetus cuss that might otherwise be a candidate for fetal surgery even using the same indications as justification for acts that are diametrically opposed. we call it the fetus if it is to be aborted, and its tissues and organs transferred to a scientific lab. we call it a baby even at the same stage of gestation when someone plans to keep it and bring it into their home. language has consequences. but it can also reflect our conflicts. we are a nation justly proud of the progress and achievements of our biomedical research. but life saving research cannot and should not require the destruction of life for it to go forward. if we cannot act with moral certainty regarding the appropriate respect and dignity of the fetus, we cannot morally justify its destruction. alternatives clearly exist that
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are less controversial and moral arguments exist that support our natural abhorrence at the trafficking of human fetal parts. surely we can, and surely we must, find a better way. thank you. >> miss cunningham, you are recognized. >> madam chair blackburn, members of the select investigative panel, thank you for the opportunity to speak about the ethics surrounding the use of fetal tissue for research. my argument which is expanded in my written testimony is three-fold. first, respect the fetus. the fetus is a human being who is entitled to the protections of modern guidelines for medical research. the foundational principles of respect for persons should apply to unborn children without distinction. second, you cannot take a life and then give away the body. participants in elective abortion, including the mother, are morally disqualified from
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consenting to donating the body, organs or tissue of the now-dead fetus for research purposes. and third, there are better, more ethical options. first, at the core of our concern is the fundamentally important question -- who or what is the fetus? the biological facts are clear. the fetus is an organism in charge of her own integral organic functioning, enduring and developing over time through all the stages of human existence. first embryo, fetus, infant, adolescent, and adult. rather than being a distinct and lesser form of human life, the fetus is a distinct human being at a particular stage of development. she is not a potential human being but an actual human being. no one has the right to take her life by force. those who are responsible for her death have failed to recognize the fundamental principle of human dignity.
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they have no moral claim to donate or assign her body, organs or tissues to others. even more, others should not profit from this wrongful act, whether for monetary gain, scientific reputation, better health, or even to claim these cures are so wonderful, how could anyone oppose this research? the regulatory scheme of protection for human subjects of medical research has continued to expand protection for research subjects to ensure that their participation is voluntary and fully informed, and that the research is for their benefit, or if not, causes no more than minimal harm, and that they may have access to the benefits of the research. protections have been explicitly extended to most vulnerable populations, but not to the fetus to be aborted. if she were being treated in ut rut utero for own benefit, the policy for protection of human subjects provides heightened
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protection for her well being. that same policy also provides special protection for prisoners but not for the fetus to be aborted. some have argued that that we all share a moral obligation to contribute our organs or bodies after death for the good of society. others share the view that we would want to help those most like us. in her analysis of fetal tissue transplantation, kathleen nolan elaborates on a problem with this view -- "in the setting of elective abortion, a cruel irony thus emerges. fetuses that have been excluded from membership in the human community by a societally sanctioned decision to abort now have obligations to that same community because of membership in it." we reject this cruel irony. now federal law does attempt to erect a barrier of sorts between
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the decision to abort and the decision to donate. for example, the procedure must not be altered in any way to accommodate researchers' needs. elements of informed consent for tissue donations should include telling the donor's family if the tissue will be upsed osed o the u.s., whether it will be modified into a commercial product, the distinction in for-profit and non-profit entities involved and that she be given a copy of the form she signed. is the woman contemplating donation made aware of the specific body parts that will be harvested? is the request may be for the unborn child's eyes, his brain, his kidneys that might be transplanted into a rat, his thymus or his pank ycreas but t greatest demand might be his liver. women should be informed with respect to this decision. how is informed consent accomplished in a setting where there is no established institutional oversight to
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ensure compliance with this regulation. as the vast majority of abortions take place in clinics that are outside the ordinary system of health care and the accreditation requirements that exist in hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers. further, abortion clinic owners vigorously resist health standards that are imposed on all other ambulatory surgical centers. the history of the use of human bodies and parts in medical education and research reveals a disturb i disturbing statistics. one commission quoted there have been instances of abuse in the area of fetal research and that the poor and minority groups may bear an inequitiable burden as research subjects." it would be enlightening to know whether that abuse continues and the demographic profiles of women who are solicited to donate. there is yet another reason to oppose the current practices of
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fetal tissue research. it is unnecessary. alternative ethically derived sources of the cells exist and they are working. my written testimony addresses this more fully and i will defer to other witnesses to speak to this more directly. a just society has no moral or other claim on electively aborted fetal bodies, organs or tissues. unborn children scheduled for termination by induced abortion are among, if not the most vulnerable members of a human family. as has been said, by many leaders in many ways, a society will be judged by how we treat our weakest, most vulnerable members. curbing the current practices of fetal tissue research would be a small, but very significant step, toward honoring the dignity of all our members. thank you.
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>> thank you, miss cunningham. professor, you are recognized for eight minutes. >> thank you, madam chairman, members of the select investigative panel. thank you for allowing me to address you todayen o the question of fetal tissue research. i am a member of the national academy of medicine and was a member of the national bioethics advisory commission from 1996 to 2001. at present i'm a warren p knowles professor of law and bioethics on the faculties of both the law school and school of medicine and public health at the university of wisconsin. i'd like to note for the record i am not here to represent the university of wisconsin or any of its units and that i have used my own personal funds in order to attend the hearing. madam chairman, fetal tissue has been used in research in this country since the 1920s. nih has funded it since the 1950s. it has been deemed ethical by
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medical review bodies and specifically funded by congress for over a quarter century precisely because it has saved the lives of countless people, including children and infants. it continues to be ethical and it will continue to save lives, in my view supporting this research represents a commitment to helping today's patients and tomorrow's infants. i say this for three reasons. first, this research serves a compelling public health purpose. second, it operates within a framework of state and federal law. and third, support for it need not depend on one's views about abortion. first, any discussion about fetal tissue must begin with its unimpeachable claim to save the lives and improve the health of millions of people. indeed, almost every american has benefited from this research in the form of vaccines or whooping cough, tetanus, chicken pox and german measles. diseases do not discriminate and the beneficiaries of this research come from every place
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on the political, religious, geographic and economic spectrum. you, yourselves, and those whom you love are undoubtedly among those who have benefited from this research and whose lives have been made better. when work began nearly a century ago, no one knew precisely where research would lead, but over time it led to a nobel prize for developing a polio vaccine using cell lines from fetal tissue. today's scientists also cannot say precisely which disease will benefit or when, but hhs says that fetal tissue continues to be a critical resource for developing vaccines against dengue fever, hiv and ebola and for research on such devastating diseases as huntington's and alzheimer's. zika is also on that growing list. cdc has posted information on its website on how to provide fetal tissue, including neurological tissue, preferably with the architectural structure intact specifically for the
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purpose of studying and managing the zika virus to prevent devastating birth defects in tomorrow's infants. some people may find the dispassionate technical language used by professionals to be startling, but one should never mistake that for callousness, particularly when talking about men and women who have devoted their lives to improving all of our lives through medicine and science. the use of cadaver tissue and organs from mature hearts in adults to fetal tissue can make some people uncomfortable about benefiting from material whose problems lie in complex situations but it does not prevent us from accepting this life saving gift. critics have overwhelmingly partaken of the vaccines and treatments derived from fetal tissue and give no indication they're foreswear further benefits. fairness and res tros -- reciprocity alone would suggest
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should protect it. beginning in the 1960s, the uniform anatomical gift act was enacted allowing fetal tissue to be donated. in 1974 president ford had a commission look specifically at fetal tissue research and that commission also found that it is ethical. in the 1980s, president reagan created the human fetal tissue transplantation research panel chaired by the late arlin adams, a republican, a refired federal judge, and opponent of abortion rights and author of a book entitled "a nation dedicated to religious liberty." like the earlier ford commission, the reagan panel found the research to be ethical, declared there was no evidence that fetuses were ever killed for the purpose of obtaining tissue, and no evidence that it ever had the effect -- any effect on decision making or on the number of abortions performed in this country. however, to guard against even that hypothetical possibility, current practice follows those
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recommendations and discussion about donation takes place only after a woman has definitively decided to terminate her pregnancy. indeed, the reagan panel explicitly considered the question of whether the woman herself should be the one who gives consent and concluded that she was the party most interested in this topic and in this outcome, and therefore she retain the moral authority to make this decision. they viewed any alternative to be even more problematic. fetal tissue research is subject to local oversight committees, state law, laboratory tissue bank regulations and various federal laws, addressing everything from the consent process to collection and storage, to confidentiality of records. two separate gao investigations have found no violations and found no sale of tissue but only legally permitted reimbursement of expenses and no violations have been found in any current investigations at either the federal or state level. third, support for fetal tissue transcends the debate about
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abortion rights. federal review has repeatedly found that the option to donate tissue has no effect on whether a woman will choose to have an abortion. that is one reason why the congress passed by overwhelming bipartisan legislation -- bipartisan margins that codified the recommendations of the ford and reagan committees' authorization to fund this research in particular. some of the most passionate supporters of that research recognize the difference between opposition to abortion rights and opposition to research using fetal tissue. senator john mccain, for example, was quoted as saying, "my abhorrence for the practice of abortion is unquestionable, yet my abhorrence for these diseases and the suffering they cause is valid." women make decisions to abort for their own reasons and after that some of them choose to
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donate the cadaveric tissue for those reasons. we gain nothing when we turn our back on the benefits of that research for people who are sick today or will be sick tomorrow, to say nothing of the irony of halting research that improves our chance of preventing miscarriages, preventing birth defects, and saving infant lives. thank you very much for your attention. >> thank you, professor charo. and i will note that both of our female panelists came in with time to spare. and i think that is off to a great start. i yield myself five minutes for questions as we begin our question round. and again, i thank you all. i'm kind of going to do a lightning round on questions, if you will. we will begin, dr. donovan, with you in responses, and then just go right down the line. so first question, do you think any business or clinic should
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sell fetal tissue for a profit? >> no. >> i do not. >> it's against the law. >> thank you all. number two, do you think that fetal organs should be grown and harvested for transplant? >> no. >> if they can be grown ethically but not from the fetus itself. >> i apologize, but i'm not sure i understand exactly what you mean by "grown." are you talking about getting pregnant deliberately in order to donate tissue? no, i would not think that that is appropriate. in fact, the reagan panel specifically worried about so-called directed donation and recommended that that be forbidden. and it is, under the law. if you're talking about the creation of synthetic organs which is currently under investigation, and is something i believe my colleague dr. goldstein might even be talking about in the next panel, then i think that is something that needs a closer look and without further information, i couldn't
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say, but it is probably a very good alternative. >> okay, thank you. question number three, do you think fetal tissue should be used for cosmetics, cell lines to do taste tests for food, or for experiments that combine human and animal dna? >> no matter how they are obtained, i would find these distasteful. no. >> i agree with dr. donovan. >> i think fetal tissue should be used in the same ways we use tissue from adults who have died, and that includes a wide range of uses, some of the ones you mention are certainly not the ones that are the most compelling, but they are within the law at this time. >> number four, if an alternative source of tissue to form cell lines exist, such as spontaneous miscarriages, do you think that is a more ethical approach? >> it does exist, and it is more
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ethical. >> yes. and panels have found that to be the case. >> it can be used but it was found to be insufficient as a substitute for tissue from fetuses that were electively aborted. that was specifically considered by the reagan panel and has been the subject of investigation since then due to the kinds of causes that underlie miscarriages and often change the nature of the tissue. but certainly it would be less controversial if one could find tissue that does not raise questions about the abortion debate, and avoiding controversy is preferable when it is possible, but not simply in order to avoid controversy at the expense of public health. >> and the fifth question, if vaccines exist that do not rely upon fetal tissue or cell lines, should consumers be given a choice? >> actually, for the most part, those vaccines do exist. there are a few still left over from the cell lines started in the '60s, to which there is no
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alternati alternative. many people have asked that an alternative be developed. that wasn't a yes or a no, was it? >> it is an answer. and that is perfectly fine. i appreciate that and i will take that elaboration. >> i think parents and patients should be aware of the source of the vaccines they're using. at least it should be available for their information to make their own choice about whether to use one that's derived ethically or unethically. >> that information is available on the internet. i have no problem with the idea of saying that people have the right to have as much information as possible and to make choices for themselves. i would note in passing that with regard to the vaccines that have no current alternatives -- the vatican has said specifically that although they would wish that there be other alternatives available, that parents who wish to protect their children by using vaccines that were derived using fetal tissue should feel free to go ahead and do so and put their
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children's interests ahead of all other concerns. >> madam chairman, could i offer a correction to that one? i hesitate to have miss charo corrected on the interpretation of vatican statements, but in fact that isn't what the vatican said. what they actually said was because the danger to pregnant women would be so great, that -- and their fetuses, that children could be immunized with this. not so much for the protection of the children themselves from getting rubella, but from spreading it to pregnant women and their babies. >> professor charo, did you have anything else to add? >> no, i'm happy to accept the notion that their concern was not for the child who is getting vaccinated but from the future children who might get uneffein. >> all pediatricians think vaccines are wonderful things and everybody ought to get lots of them. but in fact the reason that such
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a moral could occur, such an exception could be offered, because it was truly life or death for the pregnant woman's baby. that's needed the protection and therefore the exception could be made. they still are quite in favor of other vaccinations. >> my time has expired. at this time i yield five minutes for questions. >> thank you. the "los angeles times" reporter and columnist, michael hiltik, wrote in september of last year that it "would be a moral outrage" if fetal tissue research became "collateral damage in the campaign against planned parenthood." he also quotes you, professor charo, as saying, "we have a duty to use fetal tissue for research on therapy, and that duty includes taking advantage of avenues of hope for current
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and future patients, particularly if those avenues are being threatened by purely political fight." so let me ask you, can you explain, dr. charo, the view that there actually is an affirmative duty to use available avenues of research? and if you could, please address how this might come into play with the zika virus and research to understand and find a solution to what the world health organization has classified as a "public health emergency of international concern." >> thank you for the question. the united states health policy is directed at improving the quality of public health. it is considered a compelling purpose under every possible regime of both law, legislative and judicial.
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and in this particular instance, this research has proven itself capable of preventing millions of diseases and has shown tremendous promise across a range of illnesses. from my perspective, if we are dedicated to improving the health and welfare of our population, this means pursuing avenues of research that might improve our resistance to disease or our ability to manage or even cure diseases. now that is always balanced against other interests. and i understand and appreciate the depth of concerns about abortion that are expressed here at this table and by many other americans. but because this research in no way affects the number of abortions, it seems to me that we are balancing a compelling public health need against what is simply a gesture of sentiment, respect, political position, or other kind of non-concrete effect against the possible cure for diseases. now with regard to zika, i think
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it brings it really into focus, because right now we are struggling to understand exactly how the zika virus operates, how it is that it can be transmitted through the placenta to the fetus, how it is it can affect fetal development at gestation, and how we can understand the outcomes it could have. for that we need to actually look at the tissue available after every stage of gestation where there actually has been a termination of pregnancy, whether through miscarriage or through elective abortion. if we don't do that, we are facing, as you said, a global emergency in which pregnant women will be forced to choose between risking the birth of a child with devastating effects, or in fact terminating her pregnancy. irony being that the absence of this fetal tissue research might lead to more pregnancy terminations than anybody has ever contemplated up until now. i think we need to look very hard at the unintended effects of restricting this research.
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>> so are you saying then that without fetal tissue research, we can't really understand the effect on fetuses? >> because i'm not a research scientist, i don't want to answer definitively, but i can say that looking at the nih website, looking at the cdc website, and looking at the information put out by other national governments, it seems clear that there is a global consensus -- it is very important to study exactly how the virus operates, both at the earliest and latest stages of pregnancy in order to understand how we might either stop it or treat it. >> let me also ask you, if the remains of the fetus are now used for fetal tissue research, what happens to it? >> the tissue is discarded. there are a variety of methods, some involve burial, others involve cremation. a few states have very specific legislation about the management of fetal remains, but they are not used in any way that is
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helpful to anybody outside of the possibility of using them for this research. >> let me ask you a question since we're talking about ethics. does the fact that fetal tissue research is now under attack and at risk of being shut down warrant our moral outrage? >> i am outraged at the idea that we could sacrifice valuable rese research and that we would gamble with the lives of patients today and tomorrow, gamble with our own lives and gamble with the lives of people in ourp famili families and our communities because we are trying to fight a deeper battle onl the common view of the moral and legal status on the fetus. again, i can only say again and again, the number of abortions in the united states will be unaffected by the outcome of this discussion about whether to use the remains for research. the only thing we know is that we will loss the benefit of the research for people who do in fact get sick. >> thank you so much. madam chair, i seek unanimous consent to enter into the record
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the "los angeles times" article thattive's been discussing titled "planned parenthood and the cynical attack on fetal tissue research." >> so ordered. >> thank you. >> gentle lady yields back at this time. i recognize chairman pitts. five minutes. >> thank you, madam chairman. first of all, dr. charo's written statement that the success of fetal tissue is "unimpeachable," is not completely accurate. the nobel prize given in 1954 was for showing that polio virus could be grown in fetal tissue, in the laboratory, not for developing the polio vaccine. in fact, the original vaccines were raised in monkey tissues,
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not human fetal tissue. and she conflates the use of fresh aborted fetal tissue with the use of fetal cell lines. and while a few cell lines which did originate from an abortion were used in the past for production of some vaccines, only a few modern vaccines utilized these old fetal cell lines, and none used fresh aborted fetal tissue. in fact, the cdc and other leading medical authorities have noted that "no new fetal tissue is needed to produce cell lines to make these vaccines, now or in the future." the new successful vaccine against ebola virus announced last summer was made using monkey tissue, not fetal tissue
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or fetal cell lines. so dr. donovan, looking at modern vaccines, do you see any need for use of fresh aborted fetal tissue for vaccine production? >> i think your statement was absolutely accurate that, yes, these have been of use in the past. there are other cell lines. there are other means of producing vaccines. and so there is no need to use fetal tissue to produce new cell lines for vaccine production. moreover, i think it may be a bit disingenuous to say that millions of lives have been saved because these vaccines were produced in the past. millions of doses have been given and millions of infections have been prevented, most of those would not have resulted in serious injury to the person immunized or death certainly. that doesn't mean we shouldn't still be immunizing.
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>> thank you. at what point -- and you can continue, dr. donovan. what point in human development does science show one is a human being? and why is this? >> well, we really have to go back to one's definition. if we're talking about is it human in terms of having a full complement of cells? you know, that develop continually into fully grown adults? that happens at the zygote stage. >> let me go a little further. is there a point in the baby's gestation at which researchers most want fetal tissue for research? and why is this? >> on that i'm not sure that i can answer accurately, so i won't. >> all right. is there any scientific evidence that unborn babies at a later stage feel pain and should the knowledge of a baby's ability to
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feel pain by certain points in development affect the ethics surrounding fetal tissue collection from induced abortion? >> i think the evidence for fetal pain is very strong. we're seeing good evidence at 18 to 20 weeks of gestation that fetuses can respond with pain responses. and i think no matter how you feel about a fetus, you can accept or reject its humanity, but we wouldn't allow kittens and puppies to be harmed or put to sleep without keeping them out of pain. i don't think we should do that for fetuses either. >> miss cunningham, did you want to add something to that? >> no, thank you. >> well, i appreciate your testimony about unborn children are the most vulnerable in the human family and they're deserving of respect and
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protection. yet, we see they're destroyed in abortions and either thrown away or traded like a commodity and it is our duty to protect them, not facilitate that to market. >> i yield five minutes for questions at this point. >> thank you very much, madam chair. i want to thank all the members of the panel for coming and presenting your different perspectives. because i think talking about ethics in these situations is important. dr. donovan, i believe you testified -- and i only have five minutes, so yes or no will suffice, most of the time. i believe you testified that you are not a research scientist. is that correct? >> although i have been -- >> no, yes or no will work. you're not a research scientist. >> no. >> miss cunningham, are you an
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ethicist. is that correct? >> yes. for the most part. >> now dr. donovan, i believe that you are philosophically opposed to abortion. is that correct? >> yes. >> and miss cunningham, you phi abortion, right? >> yes. >> now, dr. donovan, do you believe that fetal tissue research should be banned in this country, yes or no? >> it depends on where you get the tissue, no. >> so, you don't believe it should be banned. okay, what about you, ms. cunningham? >> i can't give a yes or no answer. >> which should be banned? >> that which is unethically -- which uses unethically derived tissue. >> tell me which fetal tissue research is ethically derived. >> that which uses fetuses after an ectopic pregnancy is removed. >> do you think fetal tissue research from abortions should be banned?
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>> in its current practice, yes. >> and, dr. donovan, thank you for help me clarify. do you think fetal tissue from abortion should be banned? >> yes. >> thank you. now, dr. donovan, you testified that -- that we have cell lines that have been developed over the last 50 years from fetal tissue research, correct? >> correct. >> do you think -- is it your position, since those cell lines were developed from abort -- from abortion fetus -- aborted fetal tissue 50 years ago that since it was so long ago it's okay to use that research now? is that what you were trying to tell us? >> in the absence of alternatives, then it can be acceptable when it is far removed. >> so, because the abortions were a long time ago it's okay that we use that tissue now, correct? >> it's a little more complex than that. >> i see. okay, now, you also testified that -- well, actually, i believe it was -- yes, it was
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you, who talked about the mengele experiments. do you make fetal tissue are equal to those experiments? do you think they're eke qual, yes or no? >> maybe. >> thank you. now, i want to talk to you, ms. chara, for a minute. you testified about your view of the ethics of fetal tissue research from abortions. you mentioned the nih panel on fetal -- human fetal transportation research during the reagan administration, is that correct? >> yes, i believe it was -- i believe it was hhs and not nih specifically, but yes. >> hhs. and, in fact, that blue ribbon panel unanimously endorsed the position that fetal tissue research is not only ethical, but should proceed, is that correct? >> i believe the vote was 19-0. >> yes, it was unanimous.
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and the chair of that commission was actually opposed to abortion, is that correct? >> yes. >> and the reason was, as you testified a minute ago, because abortion is legal in this country, and so people thought we should be able to give the opportunity to people who had made that legal choice to have an abortion to then donate that tissue to help save other lives, is that correct? >> yes. >> because as you testified, the alternative when somebody chose to have an abortion, if they did not donate that tissue, was the tissue would be destroyed as medical waste, is that correct? >> yes, it is. >> and that, in fact, is why many people do make the ethical choice to donate the tissue, is that right? >> i believe so. >> now, i wanted to ask you one more thing, which is from an ethical standpoint do you think that it makes any difference
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when cell lines were developed, year from -- from tiss from abortions? >> in this circumstance, i do not think so, because the prospect of research in the future or the existence of research in the past is equally indifferent to the question of whether a woman would decide to have an abortion. that decision is not affected by the research or the prospect of it. >> thank you. thank you very much, madam chair. >> gentle lady yields back. at this time i recognize ms. black for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair. and i want to thank you at panelists for being here today. i want to begin by saying i spent my entire career as a nurse, worked in the emergency room most of that time. and it was my responsibility when i was in the emergency room before we had the organ procurement organizations to come and talk with the family members. it was my responsibility when someone was deceased to look them in the eyes and ask them if
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they would consider donating their family member for research or transplantation. it was a very sensitive time, and i've got to tell you that as i think about those times i can actually see the eyes and the people that i asked this of. and one of the things that i will always remember is the dignity and the respect for those family members. families actually -- there was a report done office of inspector general and if i may insert this into the record, that looked at informed consent in tissue donations and what the expectations and realities were of these family members. here are the things that were found in there, i don't think it will surprise any of us. if we have someone we love that dies either expectedly or unexpectedly is a very dramatic thing. what organs will be procured. will the body be treated with respect and special care to ensure the gift is used for the stated purpose. those are the three main things
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that were found in both these reports and also my experiences. very tender times, and as i say, dignity of life and respect for that. i am curious that we don't have that same dignity and respect for the life of what we call tissue and fetus and embryo. this is a baby. i think ms. charo mentioned, this is the remains. tissue is discarded. this is not tissue. this is a baby. you don't get a brain, a liver, a kidney, all of these organs from a tissue. it is a baby. it's not a blob of tissue. now, what i want to go to is if we can put up an exhibit "f," in these documents, documents were produced by a panel at a leading university to show that a researcher sought from a tissue procurement business, quote, a first trimester human embryo
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preferably around eight and up to ten weeks of gestation. and i think you all may have that in front of you, but the document is exhibit "f." and this is what it looks like. it actually says "doctor" and we've -- the name of the doctor is blacked out. at the university of would request a first trimester human embryo preferably eight to ten weeks of gestation. we've ordered tissue before so our information should be on file. please let us know if this tissue is available. this is not dignity. this is not dignity. this is not respect for human life. i want to ask the panelists, have we reached a point in our society where there effectively is an for human parts including entire babies? and i'd like to ask our panel for their opinion on this e-mail and the notion of obtaining potentially entire embryos on demand. dr. donovan, would you like to address this? >> i personally find that it shocks my conscience and i think
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it should shock the conscience of the nation. i think you're absolutely right, you know, we have comodified what had been referred to as the prod spuucts of conception mean babies and baby parts. and, yes, they are for sale, supposedly just to cover one's costs, but those costs seem to be quite variable. but even if they were given away free, it's shocking to be ordering what you want, can i have a boy fetus or a girl fetus or a brain or a heart or a li r liver. this is -- this is totally in distinction to the honorable transplantation industry that is lifesaving and shows great respect for the donors. >> ms. cunningham? >> i think what we need to pay attention to here is not -- is this somehow increasing abortion. my concern is that researchers have come to count on induced
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abortion for their research, and one of the articles that i cited in my written testimony shows that liver from induced abortions is widely available and is a promising source. what have we come to where researchers need induced abortion to do their research? wouldn't it have been better if we had banned this at the beginning and used the creative minds that we have -- >> and, ms. cunningham, i hate to cut you off -- >> alternatives. >> thank you. i just have one brief comment to make because my time is going to end here in just a second. i believe that we should give this same information and dignity to these young women that are making these decisions and i believe that it should be a more informed and educational decision that they are making and i don't believe that is happening currently. i yield back the balance of my time. >> gentle lady yields back. m you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair, and thank you all for your
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participation today. today i feel like a time traveler and not a member of congress. perhaps we have been transported back to 1692 to the salem witch trials where fanatics persecuted and murdered innocent people who had committed no offenses. or maybe we've been transported back to the right side scare where at least 10,000 americans in many professions around this country lost their livelihoods due to the reckless and disgraceful actions of the house on un-american activities committee and the infamous senator joseph mccarthy who eventually went after an army general counsel mr. welch, and mr. welch finally put down senator mccarthy by saying, have you no decency. unfortunately, this time those being burned at the stakes are our scientists who hold future medical breakthroughs in their hands. they are joined by brave women's health care providers who are


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