California companies accused of selling aborted fetal tissue for profit
October 12, 2016
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has filed a lawsuit against two Yorba Linda-based medical companies, alleging they illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue that was donated by abortion providers. [OC Register]
State and federal allow companies to charge a fee for the processing and shipping of fetal tissue. However, it is forbidden for companies to profit from fetal tissue transactions.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, prosecutors allege sister companies DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics advertised and sold hundreds of units of fetal tissues and stem cells to research facilities worldwide and collected tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. The companies obtained fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood and other providers, then turned profits selling stem cells from organs, including hearts, lungs, kidneys, brains and intestines, according to the lawsuit.
DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics profited from at least 500 sales to research facilities between 2012 and 2015, according to the lawsuit. Between 2009 and 2015, the companies collected $56,678 in packaging and handling fees, which were marked up by about 50 percent above the actual costs, the suit states. Prosecutors also allege employees were paid commission.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office alleges the companies used unfair and illegal business practices under California penal code.
“This case is not about whether it should be lawful to sell fetal parts of whether fetal tissue research is ethical or legal,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. “This lawsuit is aimed at taking the profit out of selling body parts.”
Michael Tein, an attorney representing DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics said the companies complied with regulations and never turned a profit.
“Their scientists worked day and night to discover cell-based medical treatments and improve the quality of life for patients suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s and other deadly diseases,” Tein said. “Shipments of research materials were made only to other scientists working at fully accredited universities and laboratories.”
Recently, Planned Parenthood became the subject of congressional hearings and several state investigations after an Irvine-based anti-abortion group released undercover videos that it claimed showed the abortion provider attempting to illegally sell fetal tissue.
DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics previously had a contract with Planned Parenthood, but prosecutors determined Planned Parenthood was donating the fetal tissue. Following the Planned Parenthood controversy last year, the companies stopped receiving tissue from the nonprofit and began acquiring tissue from hospitals and other providers.
Orange County prosecutors are seeking a $1.6 million fine and injunction stopping the future sale of fetal tissue for profit.