Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Untangling the fetal tissue trade

Abortion | Federal government cancels one contract for aborted baby body parts, but others remain
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/01/18, 04:04 pm

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.

Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli California Gov. Jerry Brown reviews legislation Sunday in his office with staff members and his wife, Anne Gust Brown (second from left).

On-campus abortion bill vetoed

California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Sunday that would have required all state-run universities to provide abortion-inducing drugs at student health centers.

State Bill 320 passed both houses of the state legislature by wide margins last month despite grassroots opposition efforts by pro-life groups, including Students for Life of America. The measure would have allocated $200,000 to each California State University and University of California campus to implement the changes to their student health centers, including setting up 24-hour phone support and “telehealth services.”

“Access to reproductive health, including abortion” is protected in California, but students only have to travel 5 to 7 miles on average to reach an abortion center, Brown wrote in a letter to the state Senate, adding, “Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, applauded the move.

“Today’s veto is a victory for all women, students, and taxpayers in California,” Hawkins said Sunday. “The pro-life generation will continue to fight against all efforts to bring dangerous abortion drugs to college campuses.” —S.G.

More good news

Breaking from the 2016 Supreme Court precedent set forth in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a federal appeals court ruled that Louisiana’s law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the state law does not impose a “substantial burden” on women seeking an abortion since, unlike hospitals in Texas, home of Whole Woman’s Health, Louisiana hospitals rarely require abortionists to admit a minimum annual number of patients. —S.G.

Pro-life setback

A U.S. District judge struck down Kentucky’s law requiring written agreements between abortion centers and ambulances and hospitals. The state plans to appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, said his office is “disappointed that the court would strike down a statute that protects the health and well-being of Kentucky women.” —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

Read more from this writer