Politics & Policy

Report: HHS Aims to Retire $100 Million of Fetal-Tissue Research


The Department of Health and Human Services is hoping to phase out research involving fetal tissue, according to a Politico report Friday.

A letter from HHS assistant secretary of health Brett Giroir to Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows reportedly discusses plans to end fetal tissue research in favor of “adequate alternatives.”

HHS is “pro-life and pro-science” and “fully committed to prioritizing, expanding, and accelerating efforts to develop and implement the use of these alternatives,” under the Trump administration, the letter reads.

The National Institutes of Health, the medical research branch of HHS, now subsidizes over $100 million of research involving fetal tissue.

HHS met with Meadows and had plans to meet with scientists on Friday. The White House met with anti-abortion groups last week as it mulls canceling the research.

“We continue to go through a thoughtful, deliberative process given the scientific ethical and moral considerations involved,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley.

The Trump administration has already canceled one FDA contract with a fetal tissue supplier and halted new programs that rely on fetal tissue.

Some scientists have argued that fetal material is required for breakthrough research for which there are scant alternatives, including vaccine, Zika virus, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s research.

The anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, which calls fetal tissue research “grisly experiments,” has pushed for an end to taxpayer funding of the research.

In September, a group of 45 state and national pro-life leaders signed a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar petitioning for an end to the research as well.

“Fetal organ procurement is highly unethical and potentially illegal,” they wrote. “The federal government must find ethical alternatives as soon as possible, and should end all association with those who participate in any trafficking or procurement of aborted baby organs. No taxpayer dollars should continue to go to this gruesome practice.”

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