A prominent scientist criticized the University of Pittsburgh this week for “trafficking body parts” from aborted babies for gristly experiments, including one in which babies’ scalps were implanted onto rodents to study the human immune system.
The university has been defending its research with aborted baby body parts, pointing to a recent investigation that found it is “fully compliant with applicable laws.”
But Dr. David Prentice, the vice president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a medical researcher, said the investigation, which was commissioned by the university, was too narrow. What’s more, he said there is no need to use unethically obtained tissue from aborted babies in scientific research.
“This tissue is derived via the death of an innocent unborn child,” Prentice told The College Fix in a new interview. “There’s frankly no realistic way that informed consent can be given for the donation of the organs, tissues, and body parts of the child. So this amounts to trafficking body parts. Whether that’s legal or not, it is definitely a lack of respect for the individual who died in this procedure.”
Last year, the Pennsylvania university commissioned the investigation after Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress exposed evidence of babies potentially being born alive in abortions and other disturbing practices at the university. The evidence came from documents they obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a Freedom of Information Act request.
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Repeatedly, the university has denied all allegations of wrong-doing. In January, it cited the findings of the new investigation to back up its research practices.
The investigation by law firm Hyman, Phelps & McNamara found that the university is “fully compliant with federal and state regulatory requirements” in its “procurement, disbursement, and use of fetal human tissue in research.”
However, many have raised concerns about the investigation. Local news station WESA noted that one of the investigators is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh pharmacy school.
Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden also pointed out that the firm did not examine abortion practices at the UPMC Magee Hospital, which does late-term abortions, or Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania, some of whose staff are affiliated with the university. These are the places where the university has been accused of harvesting organs from aborted babies.
Prentice had other concerns, too.
“They narrowed their parameters so much that the assessment is neither thorough nor transparent. They focus only on strict legal questions,” he told The Fix. “They pretty much ignored the real questions that were out there, meaning that UPitt was squeaky clean in terms of meeting these parameters.”
The university continues to maintain that its research practices are legal and ethical. A university spokesperson told The Fix this month that its research with “fetal tissue … plays a critical role in advancing life-saving discoveries.”
But Prentice said tissue from aborted babies is not necessary for scientific advancement. He said scientists today have “numerous alternatives, better both ethically and scientifically” than aborted baby body parts.
“It really is up to the scientists to bring the scientific community into the modern world of research that does not allow this horrific trafficking of baby body parts,” he told The Fix. “It is just better science as well as certainly better ethics for the scientific community.”
Many pro-life leaders and lawmakers have been calling for an independent investigation of the University of Pittsburgh’s research practices.
One horrific experiment at the university involved scalping second-trimester aborted babies and then implanting their scalps onto rodents to study the human immune system. University of Pittsburgh researchers published the results of the study in 2020 in the journal “Scientific Reports,” as well as photos that show tufts of babies’ hair growing on the rodents.
The Center for Medical Progress and several doctors, including one who supports abortion, also pointed to documents and statements from university officials that suggest some aborted babies’ hearts still may be beating when their organs are harvested for scientific research.
Last year, David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, expressed doubt about the independence of the university’s investigation in an interview with The Fix.
“Tellingly, the University of Pittsburgh thinks that hiring a law firm somehow counts as an ‘independent’ review of their barbaric experiments with aborted baby body parts,” Daleiden said. “Anyone who wants a real investigation should look at the document requests nearly 100 congressional representatives made … concerning Pitt’s experiments on aborted babies.”
In August, a University of Pittsburgh spokesman called the allegations “irresponsible and false” in a statement to Fox News. He said the university and its partners comply with all laws, and the university itself does not perform abortions.
The university has been using Americans’ tax dollars to become a “tissue hub” for aborted baby body parts for scientific research for years. According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress, the university requested $3.2 million over a five-year period in 2015, and it has received at least $2.7 million so far.
The Center for Medical Progress said the university documents and statements confirm that some aborted babies’ hearts still are beating while their kidneys are harvested for scientific research. The documents also show that the university program has racial quotas for aborted baby body parts.