On Friday, the White House announced a decision to resume federal funding for research involving the use of fetal tissue, lifting the restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump.
In his presidential era, Trump demanded that “all research applications for NIH (the US National Institutes of Health) grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board,” when he introduced the restrictions two years ago in June.
LifeSite reports that now, with Biden having assumed office, the NIH declared that “there are no new ethical issues that require special review” and that it will no longer host an ethics advisory board.
The NIH announced the changes on April 16. Accordingly, government scientists will be allowed to employ aborted body parts of infants in their study again with the exemption from additional ethics review of grant applications submitted by academic researchers, they said in a statement.
When the ban was imposed by the Trump administration in 2019, abiding by the policies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) required that proposals at the NIH must go through a literature review by an ethics advisory board when applying for federal funding if the study involves the use of fetal tissues.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” HHS said in a statement released during that time, confirming they would support Trump’s decision.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council (FRC), said, “The fact is that the remains of aborted babies have not been used to create the cure of a single disease. It’s clear that the NIH under President Biden means to do the opposite of ‘follow the science.’”
Lifesitenews provided that the ethics advisory board that constituted mainly Catholic bioethicist members would dismiss most of the applications. According to the outlet, 13 out of the 14 research proposals that would use fetal tissues were rejected.
The 13 rejected submissions were found to have elements of “serious ethical” problems, said the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute.
When Trump introduced the restrictions, critics were saying the research outcome might be vital to medical breakthroughs.
“There’s not a lot of groups that do fetal-tissue research, but what they do is pretty vital, and so it’ll be good to be able to continue that research,” said Kirstin Matthews, a science-policy scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, Texas.
Nonetheless, in developing vaccines or cures against diseases, such as polio, chickenpox, and hepatitis A, the International Society for Stem Cell Research argued that fetal tissues are vital for research outcomes, reported Politico.
During the early rise of Covid-19, one scientist at the NIH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, due to Trump’s policies, was barred from conducting a study on treatments of the lethal virus, Nature added. The rejected research needed to employ human fetal tissue to recreate a mouse model.
On the other side of the argument, the ban’s supporter, David Prentice, vice president and research director at the antiabortion Charlotte Lozier Institute in Arlington, Virginia, said that “the language is trying to hold an ethical standard for the research proposals and the research that might be done. The policy is not just about science. It’s also about ethics.”
Likewise, the J&J vaccine research and development are confirmed by using fetal cell lines, stated on a government website.