By David McLoone
President Joe Biden’s administration overturned restrictions on Friday relating to federal funding of the use of fetal tissue – body parts of aborted babies – for experimental purposes. The policy reverses a ban put in place by former President Donald Trump limiting federal funding for such research.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which superintends the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced Friday that it would be revoking the Trump-era requirement that “all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board.”
“Accordingly,” the statement continues, “HHS/NIH will not convene another NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board,” opening a much more liberal space for fetal tissue research by scientific organizations and universities.
HHS had previously enacted a policy at the behest of the Trump administration in 2019 that stopped all fetal tissue research at NIH facilities and required non-NIH facilities receiving federal funding – “extramural research communities” – to submit proposals for approval by an ethics advisory board, for research using tissue derived from aborted fetuses.
At the time, HHS accompanied the partial ban on fetal tissue research with a statement which said “promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration.”
The ethics advisory board, which boasted a number of Catholic bioethicists, rejected federal funding for 13 of 14 research proposals submitted for review involving fetal tissue research. The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute noted that there were “serious ethical and consent problems discovered during proposal review” for the 13 rejected applications.
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, chaired by staunchly pro-abortion Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), later claimed that “Trump Administration efforts to block federal funding for medical research [using aborted fetal tissue] are based in ideological objections, not evaluation of the scientific merit of such projects.”
Now, with Biden having assumed office, the NIH declared that “there are no new ethical issues that require special review,” and that it will no longer host an ethics advisory board.
Furthermore, a report in the New York Times revealed that scientists who had previously worked with fetal tissue in their research before Trump’s ban, will immediately have their projects “reinstated without further review,” making taxpayer dollars immediately available for fetal tissue purchase and experimentation, as it was in the Obama-era.
“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. 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,” reacted Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council (FRC).
“The fact is that the remains of aborted babies have not been used to create the cure of a single disease. 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. Their actions deny the truth that every human life, born and unborn, possesses inherent dignity and deserves to be treated with respect,” Perkins added.
“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,” commented Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “From day one they have sought to expand abortion on demand, funded by taxpayers, against the will of the strong majority of Americans.”
Biden’s allowance of research on the bodies of aborted babies will “force Americans to be complicit in barbaric experiments using body parts harvested from innocent children killed in abortions, with no limits of any kind,” she added. “Pro-abortion Democrats push this deeply unpopular agenda at their own political peril.”
Senior fellow and director of life sciences at Charlotte Lozier Institute Dr. Tara Sander Lee described fetal tissue research as “exploiting the bodies of these young human beings,” which she said is “unnecessary and grotesque.”
Lee explained that 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.”
“[To] resume experiments using the body parts of aborted children defies both the best ethics and most promising science,” she said.