Trump Administration Ends Government Research Using Aborted Fetal Tissue

06 Juin, 2019, 06:26 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
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The Trump administration on Wednesday announced it is suspending the use of fetal tissue in research conducted by government scientists and said it is ending a contract with a California university over its use of the materials.

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".

While fetal tissue samples used in research can not be from babies specifically aborted for the purposes of providing those samples, undercover videos taken at Planned Parenthood in 2015 that showed Planned Parenthood workers planning to sell aborted babies for profit caused outcry from the pro-life community. The tissue from elective abortions would otherwise be discarded.

Wednesday's announcement turns on its head an assurance to scientists late past year at an invitation-only NIH workshop on fetal tissue research.

Ending the use of fetal tissue by the government is a victory for anti-abortion activists, part of President Trump's evangelical base, many of whom believe that Trump is on a mission from God. The official wasn't authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But research using fetal tissue has led to life-saving advances, including development of vaccines for rubella and rabies and drugs to treat the HIV virus.

Officials said there are now at least three active federal research projects that involve human fetal tissue, and possibly as many as 12. This new ruling will also not prevent privately funded research from using tissue samples harvested from abortions. But new projects or current projects seeking renewal will be subjected to a stricter review process by the ethics review board.

For grants and contracts in nongovernmental research laboratories, no other funding of fetal tissue research will be interrupted.

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'This is a pro-life, pro-science administration, ' HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) at the time.

Abortion proponents immediately began a campaign to "save" research using fetal tissue, claiming that the use of aborted babies in a scientific setting is highly regulated, and that experimentation could yield results that rid the world of disease.

But leading scientific groups say there still are conditions where fetal tissue is the best, or even the only, option to get clear answers to some devastating disorders - because those substitutes don't act the same as tissue from the exact developmental stage that needs to be studied.

Trump's Administration first threatened this research last December. From nominating federal judges who oppose abortion, to repeatedly trying to cut funding from Planned Parenthood, the administration is an ally to pro-life advocates. This severely limits research done on HIV.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research questioned whether the new scrutiny that university projects will face will follow long-accepted ethical guidelines or instead block the research for ideological reasons.

The government has funded research using fetal tissue for decades, under administrations of both political parties. The department added that the decision will not apply to external research projects that receive NIH grants during their contract period.

The NIH is funding a $20 million U.S. program to "develop, demonstrate, and validate experimental models that do not rely on human fetal tissue from elective abortions".

"Despite the president's pledge to 'end the HIV epidemic, ' today's announcement poses a direct threat to crucial research to find treatments for HIV and other health threats", said Megan Donovan of the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

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