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NIH Reverses Trump-era Ban on Fetal Tissue Research

In this Aug. 10, 2015, photo, Christine Jelinek, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, works alongside a tray of vials containing cerebral spinal fluid in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The National Institutes of Health announced on Friday it is reversing a Trump-era ban on using fetal tissue in research.

Additionally, the notice said the Department of Health and Human Services and NIH will not assemble another NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.


“This notice informs the extramural research community that HHS is reversing its 2019 decision that all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board,” the notice reads. “NIH reminds the community of expectations to obtain informed consent from the donor for any NIH-funded research using human fetal tissue … and of continued obligations to conduct such research only in accord with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations, including prohibitions on the payment of valuable consideration for such tissue.”

Democratic lawmakers celebrated the news. 

“We applaud the Biden administration and Secretary Xavier Becerra for prioritizing science and reversing the Trump administration’s arbitrary barriers to both extramural and intramural researchers on the use of fetal tissue in scientific research,” said Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). 


“During a time when our country necessitates recovery that prioritizes science over politics, this is an integral step towards protecting the advancements of our scientific community,” the lawmakers added. 

But pro-life leaders like Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, called the move “disappointing.”

“It is very disappointing that the Biden administration has chosen to reverse current policy and fund research that requires aborted fetal tissue and organs,” he said in a statement. “This type of experimental research is a gross violation of human dignity and is not where the majority of Americans want their tax dollars being spent. The government has no business creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts.”

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