US department bans research agency from using human foetal stem cells

US department bans research agency from using human foetal stem cells Photo Credit: Biocomp Labs

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have banned the National Institutes of Health from using human foetal stem cells from electively aborted babies for government funded research.

The department also issued a $20 million (€17.6 million) grant for research to develop models that do not rely on human foetal tissue yesterday.

HHS released a statement saying that “promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President (Donald) Trump’s administration”.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on this decision, commending the Trump administration for directing tax dollars away from foetal tissue and toward alternative research solutions.

“Scavenging and commodifying the body parts of abortion victims for use in research gravely disrespects the bodies of these innocent human beings,” Archbishop Naumann said yesterday (June 6). “Their remains deserve the same respect as that of any other person. To subsidise this degrading practice with our taxpayer dollars is deeply offensive to millions of Americans.”

After an audit and review of its own research involving human foetal tissue and elective abortions, HHS elected to adopt the ban on human foetal research, not only within HHS itself, but to terminate contracts without outside institutions that used foetal stem cells for research.

It refused to renew a $13 million (€11.5 million) research contract with the University of California, San Francisco, because it failed to live up to their moral and ethical standards.

In 2019 alone, NIH spent $120 million (€106 million) on foetal tissue of unborn babies, according to a news release.

Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson issued a statement citing the “millions of taxpayer dollars” that NIH “has spent pursuing this unethical research” and thanking HHS for “this important action and encourage HHS to ensure that all grants maintain a respect for human life.

In addition to refusing to renew its contract with the University of California, San Francisco, HHS will change its regulations for future NIH grants in order to uphold its safeguards against exploiting human foetal tissue.

The department also funded a $20 million research project to discover alternatives to foetal stem-cell research. The goal is to create human tissue substitutes that can be reliably used to test the effects of new drugs on the human body.

In a news release, Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, who fought in the House to end NIH’s foetal tissue research programs, said that “there are proven ethical alternatives for life-saving research such as using mice with humanlike immune systems developed from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood”.

Current avenues of alternative research under the HHS grant include donated cadaver tissue from deceased new-borns, tissue modelling, and genetically altering mice to undergo human drug tests.