September 25, 2018 - Tuesday
FDA: Not Cleared for Contract
It looks just like any other online shopping cart. There's a drop-down menu for parts and prices. "What type of tissue would you like to order?" the form asks. Hearts? Lungs? Livers? Brains? There's even an option for age. Four weeks? Eight weeks? 16? "Same day delivery!" the site promises. It's the same baby body part business that Planned Parenthood said it was "proud" to supply. But to most Americans, the biggest surprise was finding out the name of one of the most prominent buyers: the U.S. government.
The news that the FDA was contracting with a fetal tissue seller rocked the pro-life world. After all, this is the Trump administration. Surely, they weren't helping a procurement business carve up tiny, lifeless babies for profit. The story turned out to be true, a new project of the FDA was, in fact, using the tissue of "fresh" aborted babies in a study on humanized mice. Eighty-five members of Congress weighed in, calling on HHS to cancel the project. "Unborn children are not commodities to be bought and sold," they argued. "The practice of conducting research using the body parts of children whose lives have been violently ended by abortion is abhorrent."
David Daleiden, whose undercover videos triggered both congressional and FBI investigations, spoke to the crowd at VVS about the absurdity of funding a practice the House spent months investigating. "It's unconscionable that the United States government would be sending a message with taxpayer dollars that these children are worth more to the U.S. government dead than alive," he said. Forty-five pro-life leaders were next, demanding in another letter that Secretary Alex Azar step in.
This week, he did. In a public statement, HHS announced that it had pulled the plug on the contract with Advanced Bioscience Resource.
"After a recent review," the agency explained, "... HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements. As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved."
Pro-lifers cheered the quick action by Azar, who showed that he was willing to move HHS in the right direction on research that's not only unethical -- but unnecessary. Of course, there's a lot more the agency can do to clean house on this ghoulish practice, including cutting off almost $100 million in grisly experiments at NIH, where Obama holdover Francis Collins is still writing checks for baby body parts. No one seems to understand quite why, since it's unpopular and unproductive compared to the moral alternatives that are actually helping patients.
Overall, it's a good first step -- but we agree with Missouri's Vicky Hartzler (R). "I find it deeply disturbing that the federal government continues to contract with companies that facilitate the trafficking of human fetal remains. This practice must stop."
To hear more on this and the project launched the Center for Medical Progress into the national spotlight, don't miss David Daleiden's talk at VVS.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.