Trump’s ‘Politically Motivated’ Fetal Tissue Ban Worries Scientists Across America
On Wednesday, the Trump administration made a controversial announcement, stating that it was planning to curtail medical research that was funded by the federal government if such research utilized tissue from aborted fetuses.
The so-called “fetal-tissue” ban was officially announced by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the statement read, according to the New York Times.
The announcement stands to fulfill a goal of the Trump administration to placate anti-abortion groups, who believe the use of fetal tissue is unnecessary and promotes the practice of abortion. Such groups believe that advances in medical technology allow for other means of research to pick up where fetal tissue research left off.
Scientists across the nation disagree.
“The consensus is that there are certain things about fetal tissue that make [it] unique. Certain experiments can really only be done on actual fetal tissue,” University of California, Davis, School of Medicine Professor Paul Knoeplfer said last December on the topic, according to Stat News.
— Forbes Health (@forbeshealth) June 6, 2019
In direct response to the administration’s plans announced on Wednesday, Alta Charo, a bioethics and law professor at the University of Wisconsin, stated that the rationale for barring such research was questionable, at best.
“There is no evidence that the use of donated tissue from fetal remains has any effect on whether women choose abortions, and no evidence that decades of research using donated tissue has ever led to an increase in the number of abortions,” Charo said, per reporting from Politico.
The decision by the Trump administration to push for the ban could affect up to $100 million in contracts dished out by the federal government to researchers across the nation. Sam Hawgood, chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco, suggested there were other motivating factors for the ban by the administration.
“We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science,” Hawgood said.
Research!America President Mary Woolley warned about the devastating consequences of ending such research.
“These new restrictions and requirements further erode the unique potential fetal tissue research holds for addressing such critical objectives as fighting blindness, ending Parkinson’s Disease, and advancing maternal and child health,” Woolley said in a statement.