The Trump administration announced last year that it would review the funding of medical research using fetal tissue. On Wednesday, they announced it was ending medical research that uses human fetal tissue by government scientists.
This type of research has been funded by the government, under both political parties’ administrations, for decades. The administration announced last year that it would review the funding of medical research using fetal tissue.
For now, university research projects funded by the government using fetal tissue can continue; however, they will be subject to scrutiny and additional reviews.
These federal policy changes will not affect privately funded research. This was made known in a statement from the Health and Human Services Department on the issue.
According to officials, there are at least three but no more than 12 active federal research projects involving human fetal tissue currently. And less than 200 of the 50,000 university research projects currently funded by the government use human fetal tissue.
Only one major university project has been canceled at this time. It comes from the University of California, San Francisco. This project’s contract has expired, and because it used human fetal tissue to test HIV treatments, it will not be renewed.
For the time being, no other university-led programs will be stopped, aside from UCSF’s. Any new projects or current ones that are up for renewal using fetal tissue will be reviewed.
This action has been a major priority for anti-abortion activists for years and a key component to President Trump’s political base. And while the final decision may have rested in Trump’s hands, it was strongly supported by many.
Such as a Republican senator who oversees NIH funding. Missouri’s Sen. Roy Blunt stated, “Today’s action is a significant pro-life victory.”
He went on to say, “development of alternative research methods that do not rely on human fetal tissue from elective abortions” has been and is currently being funded and he remains “supportive of that effort.”
A group that seeks to put elected officials who are opposed to abortion in office, the Susan B. Anthony List agrees by saying that taxpayer dollars should be looking for those alternatives to fetal tissue in medical research.
They wholeheartedly approve of the NIH in its funding of a $20 million program to do just that.
And the president of Students for Life of American, Kristan Hawkins, says that the Trump administration has “once again done the right thing in restoring a culture of life to our government.”
However, UCSF calls the decision “politically motivated.” University Chancellor Sam Hawgood said he this to be “shortsighted and not based on sound science.”
He also claims this recent federal policy change has put an unnecessarily short end to a partnership with the National Institutes of Health.
And UCSF isn’t the only one complaining.
Scientists from all over the country are unhappy with this decision, claiming that fetal tissue is still vital to medical research on cancer treatments, HIV vaccines, and many other health issues. It has already been instrumental in creating vaccines for rabies, rubella, and HIV treatments.
Dr. Lawrence Goldstein from UCSF says that “Prohibiting valuable research that uses fetal tissue that is otherwise going to be discarded doesn’t make any sense.” According to NIH Director Francis Collins, “scientific benefits come from fetal tissue research.”
Harvard’s director of Stem Cell Institute agrees, saying there are projects for treating ALS, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s, and more that currently use fetal tissue to make a difference. It seems the consensus from the scientific community is that it cannot be substituted.