On Tuesday, the Biden administration defended its reversal of Trump-era restrictions on fetal tissue research, calling it a necessary move for medical advances.
The Trump administration in 2019 ended research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involving the use of fetal tissue from elective abortion. It also set up an ethics advisory board to review future research proposals for grants and contracts. A statement at the time said, “promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration.”
But this month, The Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Biden administration was “reversing its 2019 decision that all” research applications for grants and contracts “proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions” will be reviewed by the ethics advisory board. HHS also announced it “will not convene” another ethics advisory board meeting.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, stood by the decision upon questioning by Owen Jensen, a reporter for EWTN, a Catholic network.
Jensen noted that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “the leaders of the president’s own faith,” reacted to the decision by saying, “It is ... deeply offensive to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.”
“How does the White House respond to that criticism?” Jensen asked.
“The White House … respectfully disagrees,” Psaki answered. “And we believe that it’s important to invest in science and look for opportunities to cure diseases, and I think that’s what this is hopeful to do.”
The USCCB statement was issued by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person,” the USCCB statement said. “Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research. It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion. Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.