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Trump administration plan to defund fetal tissue research impacts UCSF

07 June 2019

On Wednesday the Trump Administration announced that it is banning government scientists from using human fetal tissue in research.

"Senior administration officials told Fox News on Wednesday that as a result of the review, HHS now will be notifying the University of California, San Francisco that another contract involving research using fetuses from elective abortions will not be renewed", Fox News reports.

Last September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it was initiating what it said would be a comprehensive review of all fetal tissue research "in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved".

The use of embryonic tissue is supported by many scientists who argue it is essential for cutting-edge research, but it is sharply criticized by anti-abortion activists. It represents a victory for antiabortion advocates key to his political base, who immediately lauded the change, and a major disappointment to scientists who say the tissue collected from elective abortions has been instrumental to unlocking the secrets of diseases that range from AIDS to cancers to Zika, as well as to developing vaccines and treatments for illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.

Director Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, said as recently as last December that he believes "there's strong evidence that scientific benefits come from fetal tissue research".

"That really requires more research and requires tissues such as this to do that research", said Schekman, "There are many elected abortions that are still legal in this country and that tissue would otherwise be discarded".

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the HHS's decision "the only humane response possible to the abortion industry's trafficking in infant remains".

The NIH spent about $100 million on fetal tissue research projects past year, according to the New York Times.

'Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump's administration, ' the HHS said in a statement.

"Today's move demonstrates NIH's investment in scientifically-proven methods for research: adult stem cells, iPS cells, organoids, humanized mice constructed using postnatally sourced cells and improved non-human cell lines-just to name a few", he said. "It is outrageous and disgusting that we have been complicit, through our taxpayer dollars, in the experimentation using baby body parts". "NIH has spent $120 million a year on grisly, unethical experiments involving the hearts, livers, bones, and brains harvested from babies too young and vulnerable to speak for themselves", SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told the Daily Wire in a statement. "Fetal tissue research is subject to stringent laws and regulations and has been for decades".

At a House hearing on the issue last December, neuroscientist Sally Temple told lawmakers the consensus opinion in the scientific community is that there is now no adequate substitute for fetal tissue in some research areas.

Aside from the canceled UCSF contract, no university-led programs will be affected for the time being, the administration said. Dozens of pro-life leaders and House members successfully pressured the FDA and HHS to terminate the contract, but concerns remained over almost $100 million in tax dollars that continued to pay for other research using tissue and organs from aborted babies. The contract previously had been renewed annually and later in 90-day increments.

Trump administration plan to defund fetal tissue research impacts UCSF