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Funding of Aborted Baby Parts Research Up Under GOP

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The federal money spent on research that uses tissue from aborted babies -- and sometimes transplants it into "humanized mice" -- has increased since Republicans won control of both houses of Congress in the 2014 elections, according to data published by the National Institutes of Health.


The recently passed omnibus, which funds the government through fiscal 2018, was stripped of language initially included in the NIH funding bill that would have expressly prohibited funding for research that uses tissue from aborted babies.

Since 2008, the NIH has published estimates of how much it spends on different categories of research in each fiscal year -- although NIH notes that it "does not expressly budget" by these categories.

According to these NIH estimates, it spent $40 million on "human fetal tissue" research in fiscal 2008; $63 million in 2009 (including $22 million added by Obama's stimulus); $79 million in 2010 (including $24 million from Obama's stimulus); $66 million in 2011; $71 million in 2012; $67 million in 2013; $76 million in 2014; $80 million in 2015; $103 million in 2016; and a record $107 million in 2017.

It further estimates that in the ongoing fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, it will spend $81 million on "human fetal tissue" research.

In the 2014 elections, the Republicans won majorities in both the House and Senate.

Yet, in December 2014, before the newly elected Republican Senate could take office, the House Republicans cut a deal with President Obama and the lame-duck Democratic Senate. It funded all federal departments except Homeland Security through fiscal 2015.


That fiscal year, funding for human fetal tissue research climbed to $80 million.

In fiscal 2016 and 2017 -- with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress -- it climbed to successive records of $103 million and $107 million.

This year -- with Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House -- the NIH estimates it will spend $81 million on fetal tissue research.

That would be less than the last two years, but more than the $79 million the NIH spent on human fetal tissue research in 2010, when Obama governed with a Democratic House and Senate.

The fetal tissue used in federally funded research comes from babies who are deliberately aborted.

"Fetal tissue used in research is obtained from elective abortions," the Congressional Research Service said in a 2015 report.

"Because the timing or recognition of a spontaneous abortion or ectopic pregnancy is unpredictable, and both conditions may result in a serious health emergency for the woman, the fetal tissue collected under these circumstances is often not suitable for research purposes," said CRS.

Nor are the babies who "donate" tissue for federally funded research aborted early in pregnancy.

In 2007, for example, the NIH sponsored what it called a "workshop" on "New Humanized Rodent Models."


A review of this NIH workshop, published by AIDS Research and Therapy, described what researchers needed to produce a "humanized rodent" called the SCID-hu Thy/Liv model.

"This model ... consists of SCID mice implanted with syngeneic pieces of human fetal liver tissues by surgical placement under their kidney capsules," said the review. "A single donor provides sufficient tissue to implant 50-60 mice."

How old must the "donor" babies be to give their livers and thymuses to make 50-60 "humanized rodents"?

A table in the review said the "humanized rodents" required "(h)uman fetal liver and thymus (20-24 g.w.)." In other words, these organs came from babies aborted at 20 to 24 gestational weeks.

Last July, when the House Appropriations Committee initially passed the bill that funds the NIH, it included words expressly denying NIH the authority to fund any research that uses fetal tissue derived from abortions. The bill said: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to conduct or support research using human fetal tissue if such tissue is obtained pursuant to an induced abortion."

These exacts words were also included in the omnibus appropriation the House passed last September -- but the Senate never took up.


Yet, the 2,232-page, $1.3-trillion final spending bill House members had 1,000 minutes to review before voting on it on March 22 did not include these words.

So, they did not become law.

A House GOP source explained why: "In order to get the Senate to drop some anti-life riders that were unfortunately approved in the Senate Labor HHS bill, the House had to drop this provision in the omni negotiations just to get the final bill to neutral."

The Republican leaders had the moral high ground on this most profound issue and quietly surrendered. Had they been willing to fight to stop tax dollars from going to research that creates a demand for organs removed from late-term unborn babies, Americans would have rallied behind them.

Their opponents would have been disgraced -- and defeated. Instead, they were.

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