The Trump administration is exploring ways to end the taxpayer-funded purchasing of aborted baby parts through research grants.
Politico obtained a letter from a top Department of Health and Human Services official this week indicating that they are willing to stop the aborted baby parts purchasing if they can find ethical alternatives.
The National Institute of Health, an agency under HHS, has given about $100 million in research contracts to scientists who use aborted baby parts in their research. Pro-life groups have been urging the federal government to end the taxpayer-funded commoditization of human lives, but some scientists are pushing back with claims that fetal tissue from healthy aborted babies is the best material for their research.
The letter from HHS assistant secretary of health Brett Giroir to pro-life Congressman Mark Meadows, of North Carolina, indicates the Trump administration is working toward ending taxpayer-funded purchases of aborted baby parts.
Giroir said HHS is “fully committed to prioritizing, expanding, and accelerating efforts to develop and implement the use of these alternatives.” He also said the department is “pro-life and pro-science.”
Politico did not name the source that provided it with Giroir’s letter.
Here’s more from the report:
Giroir’s letter — drafted in response to a meeting with Meadows and before HHS has listening sessions with scientists on Friday afternoon — suggests that the Trump administration has committed to efforts to accelerate the development of alternatives so it could reduce or eliminate the use of fetal tissue. The draft defines alternatives as “models that are scientifically validated and reproducible in multiple conditions and by multiple investigators.”
HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said the agency has not made a formal determination on whether to continue to fund fetal tissue research. “We continue to go through a thoughtful, deliberative process given the scientific ethical and moral considerations involved,” she said. “When we receive inquiries from members of Congress, we respond.”
Over the past few months, pro-life groups and conservative news outlets have been uncovering new details about government spending on aborted baby parts for research. Some of these contracts have used tax dollars to pay for body parts of healthy, late-term aborted babies – including potentially viable unborn babies up to 24 weeks.
The Trump administration canceled one contract already, but the practice continues.
Earlier this week, Politico reported HHS officials have been meeting with scientists, pro-life leaders, bioethicists and others to discuss the matter.
One such National Institute of Health contract is with University of California- San Francisco. The contract provides money for fetal body parts to conduct experiments involving “humanized mice,” according to CNS News.
The contract, which began in December 2013 continues through December 2020, according to NIH.
“The actual total amount of this contract, including all options, is $13,799,501 for a full performance period through December 5, 2020,” the NIH told CNSNews.com. “We have obligated $9,554,796 to date.”
Aborted baby body parts used in the experiments were taken from healthy, later-term unborn babies. According to the report, the aborted babies were 18 to 24 weeks gestation from “women with normal pregnancies before elective termination for non-medical reasons.” Another article indicated aborted babies’ livers and thymuses also were used. They were between 20 weeks and 24 weeks gestation.
A 2017 journal article indicates researchers also used aborted babies’ intestines in their experiments.
Some scientists have complained about the potential cuts, claiming that fetal tissue, or aborted baby body parts, are important to scientific advances.
“It will slow some projects down that are vital for sick Americans,” Larry Goldstein, the director of the University of California – San Diego’s stem cell program, told Politico.
President Donald Trump’s administration has been taking steps to stop the purchasing of aborted baby parts with tax dollars.
In September, it canceled a Food and Drug Administration contract to acquire body parts from aborted babies to be transplanted into mice. The now-canceled contract was with Advanced Bioscience Resources, a company that obtains aborted baby parts from Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses.
The Trump administration also said HHS is also conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to “ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.”
The agency said it would continue reviewing alternatives to human fetal tissue in HHS funded research “and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.”
Pro-life groups have said more protections are needed to ensure the FDA and HHS do not sign other agreements to purchase aborted baby parts in the future. Earlier, 48 national and state pro-life leaders urged HHS to end the practice.