House report: dozens of colleges trade in aborted fetal tissue
A recent report from the U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee claims that dozens of colleges and universities have procured aborted fetal tissue.
The report was compiled by a Select Investigative Panel established in October of 2015 after House members called for an investigation in response to viral undercover videos exposing the fetal tissue industry, and while the panel’s investigation was intended to focus primarily on abortion clinics, it also reveals that at least 60 American universities have received aborted fetal tissue, mostly between 2011 and 2015.
The report identifies three main ways that schools obtain aborted fetal tissue: they can develop a relationship with a local abortion clinic, purchase it from a company, or receive it from another university’s tissue bank.
From 1993 to 2015, for instance, the Human Fetal Tissue Repository (HFTA) of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York provided aborted fetal tissue to a number of research institutions.
While it is unclear whether the HFTA made a profit from its work with fetal tissue, the report did find that the lab received “reasonable payments” from research institutions, claiming that at least one research institution paid the HFTA “$250 per fetal tissue specimen.”
Colleges that received aborted fetal tissue from HFTA include the University of California, Irvine; the NYU School of Medicine; the Yale University School of Medicine; the Wayne State School of Medicine; Rockefeller University; the University of Virginia; Johns Hopkins; SUNY Buffalo; and the University of Wisconsin.
Of those schools, only UW-Madison responded to a request for comment from Campus Reform, defending its use of fetal tissue for medical research on legal and moral grounds.
“Medical research involving legally and ethically obtained fetal tissue saves lives and provides hope for families living with diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes,” the school argued. “UW–Madison follows federal law to ensure no one profits from tissue used in research.”
While the HFTA has since closed its doors, the University of Washington School of Medicine now runs the “nation’s largest fetal tissue bank” through its Birth Defects Research Laboratory, according to the report, which claims that “over the last five years, over a dozen [abortion] clinics have provided UW fetal tissue, and 40 universities or other public research institutions have been recipients of [aborted] fetal tissue.”
Among the 27 university recipients of fetal tissue from the UW lab are Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, Temple University, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and numerous state schools such as the University of South Carolina and the University of North Texas.
As of press time, there is no public-facing entity at UW under that name, and after a public records request was filed with the organization last year, “public employees and abortion clinic personnel responded by seeking restraining orders and court injunctions,” LifeNews reported in December.
One of these clinics was the Allentown Women’s Center in Pennsylvania, which supplied aborted fetal tissue to the UW Research Lab. Clinic workers encouraged women to donate their fetal tissue by saying that there is “research that requires fetal tissue” and that “only fetal tissue and stem cells can further birth defects research.”
However, what clinic workers at the Allentown Clinic told women “grossly misrepresents the state of scientific research,” the panel concluded.
Just as the HFTA was compensated for its work with fetal tissue, so too was the UW lab, with some invoices listing charges ranging from $521 to $2,500. However, the lab provided “heavily redacted” invoices to the panel, rendering it impossible to conduct a full analysis “of payments made to and by UW in connection with transfers of fetal tissue.”
Tissue banks such as the one at the University of Washington aren’t the only source of fetal tissue for universities, though, because some colleges contract with local abortion clinics or businesses (such as Novogenix or StemExpress) instead.
For example, the University of Michigan contracted with Novogenix to obtain fetal tissue, but defended the practice In a statement to Campus Reform.
“Fetal tissue research is important in the pursuit of developing life-saving and life-sustaining treatments and cures,” a university spokesperson explained. “The University of Michigan complies with all applicable federal and state laws in obtaining fetal tissue for research purposes and our research teams follow all applicable laws and regulations regarding such research.”
Colorado State University similarly partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in 2011 for its fetal tissue needs.
Campus Reform has reached out to every university mentioned in this report for comment, but only received responses from the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both of which affirmed their use of aborted fetal tissue and defended it. This article will be updated if and when additional responses are received.
“Like many Americans, I was horrified by the recent videos which depicted Planned Parenthood employees callously discussing the trafficking and sale of aborted babies’ tissues and organs,” Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) remarked during the debate over establishing the panel.
“I want to clearly state this is about getting answers of how we treat and protect life in this country,” added Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). “Over the past several weeks, we have had lots of serious questions. They are troubling questions that have been asked.”
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