After a push by 15 state Attorneys General for the Trump Administration to approve the use of fetal tissue newly procured through abortion to research the coronavirus, over 120 members of Congress are asking the Trump Administration to keep its pro-life policy in place. So far, the Administration has continued its refusal to fund research conducted with newly procured fetal tissue.
In June 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it was cutting federal funding for research that used fetal tissue procured from abortions after the announcement date, National Review reported. Scientists at the National Institute for Health (NIH) can no longer use fetal tissue from babies aborted after the announcement. This kind of research cost the government $13 million in 2018.
Announcing the cut in funding, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement at the time, “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration. Research [at NIH] that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted.”
On March 25, 15 state Attorneys General addressed a letter to the president argued that he should make an exception to the policy because of the importance of rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Allowing our nation’s scientists to use fetal tissue can help accelerate vaccine development to combat COVID-19 and help us study the impact to pregnant women and children,” their letter read.
Similarly, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, tweeted on April 6, “The Trump admin refuses to lift its baseless restrictions on human fetal tissue research, which is preventing our nation’s scientists from advancing studies to find treatments and cures for coronavirus. We’re calling on HHS Secretary Azar to immediately lift these restrictions.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, led the pro-life response with a letter on April 14 addressed to the president along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Pro-Life Caucus Chairman Chris Smith, R-N.J. which garnered signatures from over 120 other members of Congress.
“We welcomed your much-anticipated June 2019 decision to stop taxpayer funding for intramural federal research using aborted baby body parts, such as livers, hearts and brains for experiments,” the letter began. “Aborted fetal tissue from ongoing abortions, however, has never been used in production of a single vaccine. We urge you to maintain your current fetal tissue research policy and to redirect funds toward ethical, successful alternatives to combat COVID-19.”
Rep. Lamborn issued a statement announcing the letter. “During this crisis, the last thing anyone should do is try and advance the left’s radical abortion agenda,” he began. “Life is precious at all stages and any claim to the contrary is unconscionable. We will find a cure for the current coronavirus but using tissue from aborted babies to do so is unethical and wrong. I’m thankful that President Trump has taken such a strong stand for life, and I’m confident a solution can be found while also maintaining the sanctity of life,” the statement concluded.
A similar letter, also dated April 14, signed by 35 senators thanked the president for the 2019 rule which blocked federal funds from going to laboratories that use newly aborted fetal tissue in their research, and likewise argued that fetal tissue from ongoing abortions has never helped develop a single vaccine. According to the senators’ letter, the claims that fetal tissue is needed to help develop a vaccine for the coronavirus “are not true.”
The Administration has not yet responded publicly to the opposing letters, which means that so far it has kept its pro-life policy in place.
Pro-life supporters can be thankful that the Administration has maintained its position, and that the federal government will not fund coronavirus research that uses fetal tissue from newly procured abortions.
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