It’s Unethical to Use Fetal Tissue in COVID-19 Research, by Christopher O. Tollefsen

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Human fetus on scientific background. 3d illustration

By Christopher O. Tollefsen, Public Discourse, April 22, 2020

In June 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the federal government would adopt a new approach to research that used fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions. Intramural research projects using such tissue—i.e., those conducted by the National Institutes of Health—would be discontinued. Funded extramural projects already underway would be allowed to continue through their grant periods, but new extramural projects would need to be considered by an ethics advisory panel to determine “whether, in light of the ethical considerations, NIH should fund the research project.” HHS identified the Trump administration’s core concern: “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration.”

That ethics advisory panel has yet to be convened. For now, no new extramural research is being funded by the NIH that involves fetal tissue from elective abortions. This is an important success for the pro-life cause.

In at least one prominent case, however, the new policy has restricted active research on a project of relevance to our current COVID-19 health crisis: researcher Kim Hasenkrug has sought permission to pursue research on “humanized mice,” mice whose lungs have been made “human-like” using tissue obtained from aborted human fetuses. This research could be helpful in generating therapies for COVID-19 patients.  ….

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