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Trump ending fetal tissue research by federal scientists

08 June 2019

The investigation was part of a much larger HHS audit looking into research across the board to determine if taxpayers were funding researchers using aborted embryos or fetal tissue.

Although it allows fetal tissue research at universities that has thus far been government-funded to continue, it also ominously promises review of this work. 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 department was not sufficiently assured that contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements", the statement said.

On Wednesday, HHS announced that it will not be renewing a similar "humanized mice" contract that expired this week, with the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). "All of these have been used in the production of treatments, vaccines and medicines currently on the market; the key is that our government will now invest in effective research methods that do not rely on the destruction of human life".

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

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The Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion activist group, welcomed the HHS' decision.

Fetal tissue has been used for a wide variety of research in the US dating back to the 1930s, including the development of several vaccines and studies of genetic diseases.

The Trump administration on Wednesday ended medical research by government scientists using fetal tissue and also cancelled a multimillion-dollar contract for a nongovernment lab that uses the material to test new HIV treatments. But researchers have continued to use fetal tissue to produce mice with humanlike immune systems.

Trump casts himself as "strongly pro-life", and his administration has taken many steps to restrict access to abortion, which remains a legal medical procedure. While humanized mice research and other techniques using fetal tissue have been lucrative for some establishments, eliminating taxpayer funding for organ harvesting in the abortion industry can easily be replaced.

"President Trump knows we can do better as a nation and we are encouraged to see NIH Director Francis Collins carry out the President's pro-life commitment".

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Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement that the Trump administration has "once again done the right thing in restoring a culture of life to our government".

Testifying on behalf of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which opposes abortion, biochemist Tara Sander Lee said tissues from infants who have to have heart surgery are among the alternatives.

Fetal tissue can only be used if a woman who voluntarily had an abortion agrees to donate it and signs an informed consent document.

The department said it made the decision after a review of all research using human fetal tissue to make sure it adhered to regulations and there was proper oversight in light of "regulatory, moral and ethical considerations involved".

Opponents of fetal tissue research claim that alternatives can come close enough to mimicking human processes without using fetal tissues. At the time, HHS promised to "ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated".

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Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. live with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), though annual transmissions have plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000.

Trump ending fetal tissue research by federal scientists