Friday, 22 September 2023
Biden HHS to reverse policy on aborted fetal tissue - pro-life groups cry foul Andreas Wohlfahrt/Pexels

Biden HHS to reverse policy on aborted fetal tissue - pro-life groups cry foul

The Biden administration's impending reversal of Trump-era restrictions on taxpayer-funded research on the remains of aborted children is getting strong criticism from pro-life groups.

On Friday, April 16, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would reverse the Trump administration policy banning federal dollars for research using fetal tissue procured from elective abortion.

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Under the Trump administration, HHS had announced a number of policy changes in June 2019 pertaining to use of fetal tissue in research projects performed within HHS, known as intramural research, and for research conducted outside the department that receives NIH funding, known as extramural research.  

For intramural research the changes meant HHS would no longer perform intramural research that requires new fetal tissue from elective abortions. The change had applied to both new research and existing projects.

In the case of extramural research, the Trump HHS had announced that in accord with federal law, new applications for extramural research using fetal tissue from abortion would now be subject to review by a congressionally-sanctioned ethics advisory board. The Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory board issued a report to the Secretary of HHS and to Congress on August 18, 2020, recommending withholding funding for 13 of the 14 research proposals that had been submitted intending to use aborted fetal remains.

The Biden administration said in last week’s announcement that its HHS will now no longer require extramural research applications for NIH grants and contracts that propose the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions to be reviewed by the Ethics Advisory Board.

Additionally, according to The Washington Post, the administration also sent an email message to internal scientific and clinical directors saying that intramural research will also no longer be barred from using aborted fetal tissue.

The announcement was not a surprise for pro-life advocates, rather, further confirmed expectations of the administration's radical abortion predisposition, also evidenced by the Javier Becerra HHS nomination, and was consequently roundly denounced.

"Reversing the ban on federally-funded research using fetal tissue obtained from abortion, removing the Ethics Advisory Board's oversight and opening the door to fetal tissue research for the NIH is a heartless and anti-life move by the administration," said Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey. "This is simply doing the bidding of the biggest Biden special interest - Big Abortion."

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Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) President Marjorie Dannenfelser expressed a similar thought.

“Biden and Harris, working hand-in-glove with radical appointees like Xavier Becerra, are moving rapidly to pay back their abortion industry allies and wipe out pro-life progress made under the Trump-Pence administration,” Dannenfelser said. “From day one they have sought to expand abortion on demand, funded by taxpayers, against the will of the strong majority of Americans. Now they would force Americans to be complicit in barbaric experiments using body parts harvested from innocent children killed in abortions, with no limits of any kind. Pro-abortion Democrats push this deeply unpopular agenda at their own political peril.”

SBA list detailed the timeline of the previous administration's actions to both ban use of aborted fetal tissue from research and encourage ethical alternatives:

  • Terminated a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR), Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration that provided human fetal tissue from elective abortions to develop testing protocols (September 2018).
  • Committed $20 million to accelerate development of the existing array of ethical alternatives to objectionable research (December 2018).
  • Banned intramural (National Institutes of Health-based) research using tissue from elective abortions (June 2019).
  • Convened an Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) to review all new and renewable requests for research using tissue from elective abortions (July 2020).
  • Concluded 2020 with decisions from the EAB that rejected many funding requests due to major deficiencies with their consent process for women being solicited for tissue and organ donations.

Dr. Tara Sander Lee, senior fellow and director of life sciences for SBA List's research arm Charlotte Lozier Institute, called the HHS resumption of fetal tissue research from aborted children contrary to science and "grotesque."

“The HHS decision to resume experiments using the body parts of aborted children defies both the best ethics and most promising science," Sander Lee said. "Exploiting the bodies of these young human beings is unnecessary and grotesque."

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"Fetal tissue was not, and has never been, used for polio or any other vaccine, nor to produce or manufacture any pharmaceutical," she added. "There are superior and ethical alternatives available such as adult stem cell models being used by countless scientists worldwide to develop and produce advanced medicines treating patients now, without exploitation of any innocent life. All scientists should reject the administration’s attempts to prey on fears related to the pandemic to advance the practice of harvesting fetal tissue.”

March for Life Action President Tom McClusky said in a report from the Washington Post that the research that the new rules will help permit “is a gross violation of human dignity," and that, "The government has no business creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts.”

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) also criticized the Biden administration's action "to exploit the deaths of unborn babies who are killed by abortion by allowing research using fetal tissue to move forward."

“We condemn this sickening decision by the Biden administration,” said Carol Tobias, president of NRLC. “Tiny human babies are aborted by abortionists and then exploited to be farmed for their organs and tissue for use in experiments.”

“The Biden administration and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra have dismantled the process of making researchers meet any ethical standards when it comes to harvesting the body parts of aborted children for research,” Tobias said.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins cited Becerra and abortion fanaticism as well while noting the conflict with science and exploitation of aborted children.   

"As expected, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, a fanatical advocate for abortion, announced the Biden administration will now force American taxpayers to pay for barbaric experiments using the body parts of aborted babies," said  Perkins. "Instead of using ethical and effective alternatives, Biden is choosing to reinstate a policy that traffics in the grizzly remains of what would have been our next generation."

"The fact is that the remains of aborted babies have not been used to create the cure of a single disease," he said. "It's clear that the NIH under President Biden means to do the opposite of 'follow the science.'"

"The Biden administration is making it once again clear that it places no value on the inherent dignity of human life," Perkins said. "Their actions deny the truth that every human life, born and unborn, possesses inherent dignity and deserves to be treated with respect." 

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Lisa Bourne

Lisa Bourne is Managing Editor of Pregnancy Help News and Content Writer for Heartbeat International. She has worked in journalism and communication for the pro-life community, the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations, and secular media for several years. 

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