In a move being applauded by the pro-life community, the Trump administration has halted a government-run study that was using aborted fetal tissue.
Research for this first halted study had been occurring in a National Institutes of Health lab located in Montana and was set to study human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The lab was ready to start running animal tests that implanted mice with fetal tissue.
A senior scientist with the lab stated in an email to his colleagues that, “…[the department] has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue.”
Late in September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it had ended a contract with a California firm called Advanced Bioscience Resources. Officially held with the Food and Drug Administration, the contract was for the procurement of fetal tissue.
Since that point, HHS has been conducting an audit of the use of fetal tissue in funded NIH studies. The ability to procure additional fetal tissue has been paused since September when the audit began. All researchers were required to work with what they already had and were told to notify top officials if they needed more.
However, the Montana lab managed to slip through the cracks of this order. Thus, the HIV study, pioneered by researchers Warner Greene and Kim Hasenkrug, managed to move forward. Officials are looking into how this occurred.
Experimenting to figure out why HIV takes hold in the human body so quickly, this particular study was about to begin testing on animals before being told to halt proceedings. If allowed to continue, mice would have been implanted with thymus tissue from an aborted fetus, creating an immune system within the mouse that had been humanized.
As the audit wraps up, HHS is considering whether or not there are bioscience research alternatives that can allow for the discontinuation of fetal tissue use. This theory is highly disputed, being pondered by researchers, argued against by the pro-abortion lobby, and encouraged by the pro-life movement.
While fetal tissue can be obtained from both miscarried and aborted babies, reports on these studies indicate that the fetal tissue was collected from babies whose mothers chose to abort them.
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0