Pro-life groups are calling for the removal of National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins due to remarks he made last week in support of fetal tissue research amid the Trump administration’s ongoing investigation into the ethics and efficacy of such research.
Last week, Collins said fetal tissue “will continue to be the mainstay,” according to Science magazine. He added that “there is strong evidence that scientific benefits come from fetal tissue research, [which] can be done with [an] ethical framework.”
The March for Life and Live Action both called for his removal Tuesday arguing that fetal tissue research, which uses the bodies of aborted babies, is inherently unethical and has no place among the pro-life policies of the Trump administration.
"Experimenting on the bodies of babies killed by abortion is never ethical, but only adds to the victimization of these innocent children,” Live Action president Lila Rose said in a statement. “It creates a market for their deaths, as we've seen from video footage of Planned Parenthood employees callously joking as they sorted through dishes of arms, legs, eyes, and brains; haggling over prices for individual parts so they could buy new Lamborghinis with the proceeds; and discussing putting mothers at greater risk by illegally altering abortion procedures to get more intact body parts to sell.”
Rose is referencing a series of undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress which appeared to show that Planned Parenthood was involved in illegal trafficking in fetal tissue. Even then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called the footage “disturbing” when it was released in 2015. It later led to the abortion giant ending their practice of receiving reimbursement for fetal tissue donation.
"Director Collins must be replaced with someone who recognizes that children who are killed by abortion should be mourned, not experimented on," Rose concluded.
March for Life president Jeanne Mancini echoed Rose’s concerns and reminded President Trump of his promise to defend the unborn.
“President Trump made a promise to the American people to defend the unborn the day he took office,” she said. “It is our hope that the President continues to make good on his promise and recognize that NIH Director Francis Collins and his defense of harvesting aborted baby body parts undermines the administration’s otherwise pro-life record. Collins’ actions are inconsistent with the pro-life policies of this administration and with the consensus of Americans who oppose entangling taxpayer dollars with abortion. It is time for his departure.”
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser responded Wednesday to reports that an NIH official had pledged continued support for fetal tissue research in a meeting with scientists.
“Reports that NIH officials insist the agency will continue taxpayer funding for unethical fetal tissue research are deeply disturbing to the millions of pro-life Americans who embrace the sanctity of every human life and who elected President Trump,” she said.
“This is the second time that senior NIH officials have jumped ahead of the Administration’s ongoing audit process – both times reaching conclusions that are out of step with the President’s pro-life agenda,” she continued. “If these statements are allowed to stand, and policy continues unchanged, it would be the first time the Trump Administration has broken with the pro-life movement. Pro-life voters do not want to foot the bill for any research that involves harvesting the body parts of unborn children from induced abortion. This includes research happening directly at NIH or in taxpayer-funded laboratories at universities and hospitals.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) canceled a $16,000 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources in September over concerns regarding fetal tissue research.