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HHS announces it is halting medical research using aborted fetuses


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Zelda Caldwell - published on 06/07/19

$20 million federal research grant to go towards research on ethical alternatives to human fetal tissue research from elective abortions

The Trump Administration announced on Wednesday that it is ending federal spending on medical research that uses tissues from aborted fetuses.

In its statement the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) noted that an existing contract with the University of California, San Francisco would not be renewed as the result of an HHS audit of federally funded medical research using human fetal tissue.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration. The audit and review helped inform the policy process that led to the administration’s decision to let the contract with UCSF expire and to discontinue intramural research – research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion. Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted, “ read the HHS statement.

The announcement was positively received by pro-life advocates who had long lobbied for an end to medical research using fetal tissue procured from abortions.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson issued a statement applauding the move:

“Over the past several years, NIH has spent millions of taxpayer dollars pursuing this unethical research and today’s announcement is an important step ensuring that public funding is not used to support a practice that depends on the destruction of innocent human life.  We thank the department for this important action and encourage HHS to ensure that all grants maintain a respect for human life.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a statement, announced the USCCB’s support for the change in federal policy:

“Scavenging and commodifying the body parts of abortion victims for use in research gravely disrespects the bodies of these innocent human beings.Their remains deserve the same respect as that of any other person. To subsidize this degrading practice with our taxpayer dollars is deeply offensive to millions of Americans.”

Several members of the scientific community criticized the move on the grounds that fetal tissue research has already saved lives.

“Prohibiting valuable research that uses fetal tissue that is otherwise going to be discarded doesn’t make any sense,” Dr. Lawrence Goldstein, a regenerative medicine specialist at the University of California, San Diego told the Associated Press. “It blocks important future research vital to the development of new therapies.”

In its statement, HHS noted that it is “continuing to review whether adequate alternatives exist to the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions in HHS-funded research and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.”

In December of 2018 HHS announced that it had funded a $20 million research project to find ethical alternatives to fetal stem-cell research. Possible ethical alternatives to tissue from aborted fetuses include placenta, umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, discarded surgical tissue and postmortem tissue, according to pro-life advocates. The HHS grant would also review research projects involving donated tissue from deceased newborns and genetically altered “humanized” mice, among other alternatives.

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