The Trump administration issued a plan Monday to promote ethical alternatives to aborted baby body parts in scientific research.
The grants, under the National Institute of Health, will provide $20 million to develop alternatives to “human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions,” according to the notice published Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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 NIH, an agency under HHS, has given about $100 million to these research contracts.
The Trump administration has been exploring options to end the contracts and support research that uses ethical alternatives. And in September, it canceled a Food and Drug Administration contract to acquire body parts from aborted babies to be transplanted into mice.
This new move signals the administration is continuing to address the problem.
According to the HHS notice, the NIH soon will seek “applications to develop and/or further refine human tissue models that closely mimic and can be used to accurately model human embryonic development or other aspects of human biology and that do not rely on the use of human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.”
HHS expressed optimism that there are ethical, viable alternatives for scientific researchers.
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“… new technologies raise the potential of reconstituting these model systems without fetal tissue yielding more replicable and reproducible system for broader uses,” the notice states.
“HHS considers adequate alternatives to be models that are scientifically validated, and reproducible under multiple conditions and by multiple investigators. Types of studies that should be submitted under these FOAs include research to develop alternative models to the use of human fetal tissue in biomedical research,” it continues.
“Science Magazine” also reported last week that the Trump administration told scientists with NIH “to stop acquiring new human fetal tissue for experiments…”
The news comes after 74 members of Congress also urged the U.S. government to stop giving money to researchers who use aborted baby parts. Earlier, 48 national and state pro-life leaders urged HHS to end the practice.
While some scientists have complained about the changes, others pointed to evidence that research using human fetal tissue has been going on for decades but, by and large, it has not been successful. Dr. David Prentice and Tara Sander Lee of the Charlotte Lozier Institute said there are ethical alternatives available to scientists that do not involve the destruction of a human life.
A November letter from HHS assistant secretary of health Brett Giroir said they are “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.”
The Trump administration also said HHS is conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to “ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.”
Details uncovered by CNS News earlier this year shed light on an NIH contract with University of California San Francisco, which provides money for fetal body parts to conduct experiments involving “humanized mice.”
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.