The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced April 16 it is overturning former President Donald Trump’s ban on using aborted fetal tissue for taxpayer-funded research.
“[Health and Human Services] is reversing its 2019 decision 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,” the notice reads.
The day before, newly appointed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra had indicated that the policy-shift was imminent.
“We believe that we have to do the research it takes to make sure that we are incorporating innovation and getting all of those types of treatments and therapies out there to the American people,” Becerra said during a hearing on his department’s budget before the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor-HHS subcommittee, according to the Washington Post.
In June 2019, Trump banned the NIH from funding work by government scientists that relied on fetal tissue. Additionally, university scientists and other outside laboratories were required to submit grant proposals to an ethical review board for funding approval.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” HHS said in a statement at the time.
According to the most recent HHS announcement, government scientists now will be allowed to resume research that uses tissue from elective abortions. And the HHS will no longer require scientists at universities to get approval from the ethics panel when applying for federal grants.
Dr. Tara Sander Lee of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Susan B. Anthony List’s research arm, said the decision defies “both the best ethics and most promising science,” noting that “fetal tissue was not, and has never been, used for polio or any other vaccine, nor to produce or manufacture any pharmaceutical.”
“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,” she explained. “All scientists should reject the administration’s attempts to prey on fears related to the pandemic to advance the practice of harvesting fetal tissue.”
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, encourages all pro-life Christians to contact their elected officials: “We need to remind Congress that we’re a nation that respects human life,” he said. “We need programs that help patients—not politically-minded scientists.”