A small group of House Democrats urged the Trump administration Monday to end restrictions on the use of aborted baby body parts in taxpayer-funded research.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, 13 Democrats claimed the restrictions could hinder research on a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus, The Hill reports. The lead writers of the letter, U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman of California, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Diana DeGette of Colorado, are pro-abortion Democrats.
“Because of your restrictions, NIH is unable to utilize human fetal tissue to develop animal models of COVID-19 that can test potential vaccines and treatments to decelerate or even end this global health crisis. This inaction may ultimately put Americans further at risk of disease or death from COVID-19,” they wrote.
They urged Azar to end the restrictions immediately, claiming it could lead to “lifesaving” research.
“Instead of exploring every possible option for a COVID-19 therapeutic, U.S. scientists are now urging their international counterparts to rush to conduct this research while their hands remain tied,” they continued.
Their letter comes just a few weeks after more than 50 pro-life leaders urged the Trump administration to remain committed to restrictions on unethical research.
Abortion activists have been trying to take advantage of the global health crisis by pushing for abortion funding in government spending bills, the de-regulation of abortion drugs, and research using aborted baby body parts. In March, the Washington Post highlighted complaints from anonymous scientists claiming research on the virus is being hindered by new restrictions from the Trump administration on the use of aborted baby body parts in taxpayer-funded research.
However, pro-life leaders said there is no need to end the restrictions.
“Research into a coronavirus vaccine is of the utmost importance, but must be scientifically focused,” they said. “… numerous, ethical alternatives exist, including the use of adult stem cells. In at least one small clinical trial, adult stem cells helped improve conditions of patients with serious coronavirus complications. Several more are on-going.”
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, at least 60 potential treatments for the virus are being investigated right now using materials that do not come from aborted babies.
“Vaccine research and efficient response in a pandemic of this nature is paramount. But so is the commitment to human life at every stage,” the pro-life leaders stated. “Treatment should not be at any cost, certainly not when it comes to a disregard for human life. We urge the administration to remain committed to its bold policies to protect life at all stages.”
Responding to the calls to end the restrictions, Dr. David Prentice, a biologist and advisor to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said abortion activists are trying to take advantage of the global health crisis to push their agenda.
“This seems an example of not letting a serious crisis go to waste, another attempt to justify the horrific practice of trafficking in aborted baby body parts,” Prentice said earlier this spring. “In the meantime, there are numerous ethical alternatives, including already a first successful use of adult stem cells to treat patients with serious coronavirus pneumonia, as well as mice made from ethical sources that can be used to test and even produce antibodies and other possible therapies for coronavirus.”
Dr. John Brehany, director of institutional relations at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, agreed, telling the Catholic News Agency there is no reason to abandon the ethical standard.
“People are working on other ways of curing the sickness brought on by this virus,” Brehany said. “There are some ideas out there.”
Ethical alternatives to tissue from aborted babies are available, including pluripotent stem cells and tissue from placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid. In 2018, the Trump administration created a $20 million grant to invest in these ethical research alternatives.
Additionally, some scientists say research using aborted baby body parts has not been successful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assured Americans repeatedly that the Trump administration “has activated a whole-of-government, whole-of-America approach to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.” HHS said these actions include “kick-starting the development of vaccines and therapeutics through every possible avenue.”
Proponents of fetal tissue research claim that it has led to advancements such as creating the polio vaccine, while omitting important details about the difference between historic fetal cell lines (which do not require ongoing abortions) and fresh fetal tissue (which does require ongoing abortions).
The original polio vaccines used monkey tissue and fetal cell lines. No current vaccines are made with fresh fetal tissue.
Moreover, fetal tissue transplantation has been unsuccessfully used in attempts to treat ailments ranging from anemia to diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. Attempts to transplant fetal stem cells also have been unsuccessful.