Jun 5, 2019

Trump administration adds new restrictions for fetal tissue research

The Trump administration eliminated funding for fetal tissue medical research by government scientists on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The decision is considered a win for anti-abortion rights supporters and a major blow to scientists who rely on the tissue from elective abortions for research into diseases like cancer, HIV and Zika, the Washington Post reports.

The administration also revoked a multimillion-dollar contract for a University of California at San Francisco lab that uses the tissue to test HIV treatments, per the Post.

  • UCSF's multiyear government contract was terminated on Wednesday without further detail.

Context: The debate over the federal use of fetal tissue — obtained from abortions — got off the ground in 2015, when an anti-abortion rights group released videos alleging Planned Parenthood profited from selling the material. Planned Parenthood claimed the footage had been doctored to mislead, and after several state and congressional inquiries, the health care provider was cleared of misconduct.

  • Trump’s health department conducted a several-month audit of fetal tissue research "in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved,” per the Department of Health and Human Services.

Editor's note: This article was corrected to reflect that the audit of fetal tissue research was conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (not funded by the National Institutes of Health).

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