The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would immediately cancel federal funding for research at the University of California San Francisco using human fetal tissue from abortions, weighing in again on a charged issue fraught with scientific and moral implications.
The Health and Human Services Department said the decision to cancel the $2 million annual contract came after a “comprehensive review” of its regulations and statutes to ensure consistency and adequate oversight “in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved.”
“HHS has been extending the UCSF contract by means of 90-day extensions while conducting its audit and review,” the department said in a statement. “The current extension expires on June 5, 2019, and there will be no further extensions.”
The review was undertaken after the department ended its contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources in September over concerns about requirements for procuring fetal tissue from elective abortions.
The move was met with cheers from pro-life activists who have sought to end the practice, spurred by the 2015 undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Research’s David Daleiden into Planned Parenthood’s involvement in supplying aborted fetal tissue to labs.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, called the HHS’s decision “the only humane response possible to the abortion industry’s trafficking in infant remains.”
“The Trump Administration once again has done the right thing in restoring a Culture of Life to our government and responded to requests from Students for Life of America and other pro-life organizations for ethical alternatives in research,” Ms. Hawkins said in a statement.
The UCSF research, titled “Humanized Mouse Models for HIV Therapeutics Development,” used aborted fetal tissue at 18 to 24 weeks’ gestation, according to documents obtained by CNS News.
“Most Americans do not want their tax dollars creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts which are then implanted into mice and used for experimentation,” said Jeannie Mancini, president of March for Life. “This type of research involves the gross violation of basic human rights and certainly the government has no business funding it.”
Pro-life groups have argued that experiments can be can used with ethical alternatives, such as adult stem cells, while some top scientific organizations have argued that the tissue is necessary for certain types of research, leading to the development of HIV drugs and rabies and rubella vaccines.
Meanwhile, Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat and chairman the House Energy and Commerce Committee, blasted the decision to defund fetal-tissue research, accusing the administration of placing “ideology over science and facts.”
“This backward decision not only stigmatizes vitally important medical research, but it may also inhibit discoveries that could save lives,” Mr. Pallone said in a statement. “It’s important that researchers are not hamstrung by arbitrary limits on where the science can take them. The Administration should be spending its time supporting and investing in lifesaving medical research rather than undermining scientific inquiry for political reasons.”