NIH Director Francis Collins Says It’s “Pro-Life” to Use Aborted Baby Parts in Research

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 20, 2018   |   11:07AM   |   Washington, DC

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins defended research using aborted baby body parts this week by claiming it could save lives.

Earlier this week, several pro-life groups urged President Donald Trump to replace Collins because he has not supported the administration’s pro-life, pro-science position.

The NIH doles out tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants annually to researchers who use aborted baby parts in their experiments. Pro-life leaders have been calling on the Trump administration to end this commoditization of human life, and the administration has been acting on the requests.

Collins, however, has defended the grants. In an interview with the Washington Examiner this week, he even implied that research using aborted baby parts may be pro-life.

“I do think that part of the argument has been missing a little bit in the fetal tissue debate: the sort of immediate assumption that if you’re in support of fetal tissue research that you must also think abortion is just fine,” he told the news outlet. “Even for people who are pro-life, who are troubled by abortion, the use of fetal tissue for research, since they are being derived anyway, if that is going to save a life someday, seems like a credible stance.”

Collins is a physician-geneticist who was appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama. He identifies as an evangelical Christian and says he is “troubled by abortion.” But as NIH director, he has repeatedly defended and supported research that uses human tissue derived from life-destroying practices.

Here’s more from the report:

Anti-abortion groups have opposed Collins ever since he supported [life-destroying] embryonic stem cell research under Obama. At the time, Collins asserted that using the cells, which were donated and would otherwise be thrown out, was an ethical position, particularly given that they could be used to save lives in the future. He implied that he has a similar view of the ethics of using aborted fetal tissue.

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“To take the results of that termination and discard it, versus trying to come up — in rare instances — for some kind of research application with full consent, seems to me like a totally ethical stance,” he said.

But last week, scientists with the Charlotte Lozier Institute told a U.S. Congressional hearing that ethical alternatives are available to scientists, and research using aborted baby parts has not been successful.

“We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements. Very little research is actually being done that currently relies on abortion – derived fetal tissue,” Dr. Tara Sander Lee said.

A biologist who study congenital heart disease and vascular disorders in children, Lee said parts from aborted babies have been used in research for more than a century, but “NO therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissue.”

David Prentice, research director at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, agreed.

“There doesn’t have to be an incompatibility between science and ethics,” Prentice told the Examiner this week. “There are a lot of pro-life scientists out there, but they are often reluctant to voice it because of public retribution.”

The Trump administration has been exploring options to end the taxpayer-funded practice and support research that uses ethical alternatives. In September, it halted a Food and Drug Administration contract to acquire body parts from aborted babies to be transplanted into mice. Then, last week, it announced new grants to develop alternatives to “human fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.”

Earlier this fall, 74 members of Congress urged the U.S. government to stop giving money to researchers who use aborted baby parts. Their letter came after 48 national and state pro-life leaders also urged HHS to end the practice.

A November letter from HHS official Brett Giroir said they are “fully committed to prioritizing, expanding, and accelerating efforts to develop and implement the use of these alternatives.” He 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 parts used in the experiments were taken from 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.