Pro-life leaders praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week for canceling its contract with a fetal tissue company, but they said the government needs to do more to protect aborted babies from becoming commodities after their deaths.
For years, the Food and Drug Administration has contracted with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) to provide human fetal tissue for research. Last month, 45 pro-life leaders urged HHS Secretary Alex Azar to look for ethical alternatives for its research on humanized mice, which uses samples from the bodies of aborted babies.
Last week, HHS reported it had canceled the FDA contract with ABR because “HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements,” the department said in a statement.
Undercover pro-life advocate David Daleiden has reported that ABR got the tissue from the bodies of babies aborted at Planned Parenthood facilities. His group, the Center for Medical Progress, said ABR has profited from millions of dollars of fetal tissue sales. In 2016, two congressional panels referred ABR to the FBI and the Department of Justice for further investigation of illegal profiteering.
HHS also launched an audit of all acquisitions of and research with human fetal tissue to make sure it is following the law, and it is looking into “adequate alternatives” to fetal tissue research.
Mat Staver, founder of the legal group Liberty Counsel, called the announcement “a positive move toward once again making the womb a safe place for unborn babies,” and Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said it was “a good first step” in directing tax dollars away from the abortion industry.
“It’s horrific for the U.S. government to create a market for aborted infants, so we applaud the current efforts to cut ties with those who traffic in infant remains and urge all branches of government to defund and distance themselves from abortion vendors wherever possible,” she said.
Other pro-life leaders are pushing for more.
Daleiden wrote the HHS review “must be exacting,” and should “provide 110% transparency about the extent of taxpayer-funded harvesting from and experimentation on unborn children.” He said the Center for Medical Progress would request information on the nearly $100 million HHS spends on human fetal tissue research through another agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Canceling a single contract and conducting a review is a small step forward, but overall is completely inadequate,” wrote Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. She pointed to massive NIH expenditures on research on human fetal tissue and called on HHS to halt funding on such research in all agencies.
“Pro-life Americans are horrified and outraged by revelations that the pro-life Trump administration contracted with a notorious baby parts trafficker to purchase ‘fresh’ aborted baby parts for research at taxpayer expense,” Dannenfelser said. “Secretary Azar must show decisive leadership and fix this problem.”
It remains unclear how the NIH is using its funding or whether HHS will step in as it did with the FDA contract for aborted fetal tissue.