The Trump administration announced this week that a new ethics board has been formed to investigate the use of fetal body parts in scientific research.
The National Institutes of Health Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board has been established and is comprised of 15 non-government employees that include attorneys, theologians, doctors, scientists, and ethicists, LifeNews reported Wednesday. The board is being overseen by Health and Human Services Department Secretary Alex Azar.
“The ethics board is tasked with researching the use of aborted baby body parts in scientific research and determining whether it is ethical. The board will create a final report to recommend whether HHS should stop funding such research,” the outlet reported.
According to the official announcement from the agency, the board will not only provide recommendations but also consider “the use of alternative models, and review and verify the core ethical principles and procedures used in the process to obtain written voluntary informed consent for the donation of tissue.”
“The Ethics Board will advise, consult with, and make recommendations to, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) regarding the ethics of research involving human fetal tissue (HFT) proposed in NIH grant and cooperative agreement applications and R&D contract Proposals,” the announcement goes on to say.
“Recommendations will address whether the Secretary should withhold funds or not withhold funds from a proposed project because of ethical considerations. In providing advice and recommendations on these matters, the Ethics Board will consider, among other things, the use of alternative models, and review and verify the core ethical principles and procedures used in the process to obtain written voluntary informed consent for the donation of the tissue.”
Late last year, the Trump administration scrapped a contract between the NIH and the University of California-San Francisco that used body parts of aborted babies to make “humanized mice.” In July, the agency implemented new rules halting such federally-funded research; the rules included requiring scientists to give detailed explanations about why they want to use tissue from aborted babies rather than ethically-obtained materials.
In 2018, HHS created a $20 million grant to invest in ethical research alternatives to fetal tissues obtained from abortions.
The baby body parts used in experiments were taken from later-term unborn babies, 18 to 24 weeks gestation, a 2018 CNS report showed. Other reports indicated use of babies between 20 weeks and 24 weeks gestation.
Although scientific experiments using organs and tissues from aborted babies is not new, the grisly reality of such practices were exposed afresh in the summer of 2015 when the Center for Medical Progress released a series of undercover videos showing top-level Planned Parenthood executives speaking cavalierly about how they facilitate operations with biotech companies.