The Trump administration will block government scientists from acquiring new fetal tissue from abortions to use in medical research.
The decision from the Department of Health and Human Services came after discussions with anti-abortion advocates, scientists, ethicists, and patient advocates. "Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Wednesday. The ban applies to scientists at National Institutes of Health, the government's medical research agency. The policy changes will not affect privately funded research. From now on, outside researchers who get government funding will undergo an ethical review process by an NIH advisory board.
National Institutes of Health
While many other scientists and medical advocacy groups are open to the possibility of alternatives in the future, they maintain that fetal tissue has unique properties that make it work best for certain research. Fetal tissue is used in research on HIV and childhood cancers, treatments that enlist the body's immune system to battle cancer, and the hunt for a vaccine against the Zika virus, a cause of birth defects. Research involving fetal tissue accounted for $98 million in NIH grants and projects during the 2017 budget year.