According to The New York Times, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday that government funding for medical research that uses the tissue of aborted fetuses would be extremely reduced. They announced that fetal-tissue research in the National Institutes of Health would be ended.
Although this is a big win for anti-abortion groups, scientists mourn the loss of a critical research component that could have helped cure millions.
The Department of Health and Human Services will cancel a $2 million-a-year contract with the University of California, San Francisco for fetal tissue research. Other research projects will be assessed by an ethics advisory board appointed by Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the department said.
The chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, Sam Hawgood, said,“today’s action ends a 30-year partnership with the N.I.H. to use specially designed models that could be developed only through the use of fetal tissue to find a cure for H.I.V. U.C.S.F. exercised appropriate oversight and complied with all state and federal laws.” He continued, “We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science.”
Georgetown professor Lawrence O. Gostin said the end to the research will affect everything from cures for cancer and H.I.V. through to Parkinson’s and dementia. The ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening and debilitating diseases. It will also severely impact the National Institutes of Health, universities and other researchers, who will lose key funding for their laboratories and their vital work.”
Some in Trump’s administration argue that fetal tissue could be replaced with something else in research. In December, scientific and medical groups banned together to write a letter to Azar stating: “Claims that other cells can be used to replace fetal tissue in biomedical research are patently incorrect. While there have been some advances in recent years that have reduced the need for fetal tissue in certain areas of research, it remains critically important in many other areas.”
Watchdog group Equity Forward said that Azar “is putting millions of dollars in lifesaving research at risk to please a small group of anti-abortion extremists.”
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