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Pro-life leaders urge end to fetal research

WASHINGTON (BP) — Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore has joined more than 40 other pro-life leaders in urging the Trump administration to halt federal use of aborted baby tissue for research.

The letter sent Tuesday (Sept. 11) came in response to an early August report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a contract to obtain “fresh” tissue from aborted babies for experimentation. The contract signed in late July with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) is for tissue to transplant into “humanized mice” so they will have a “human immune system,” CNS News reported.

The pro-life letter — initiated by the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List and sent to Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — said the federal government “must find ethical alternatives as soon as possible, and should end all association with those who participate in any trafficking or procurement of aborted baby organs. No taxpayer dollars should continue to go to this gruesome practice.”

Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press, “There is nothing pro-life about partnering with the abortion industry for any reason. This company [ABR] has been exposed as trafficking in the most horrible of practices, undermining human dignity.

“The government funded by tax dollars should have nothing to do with this immoral and unjust industry,” Moore said in written comments.

By its action, the FDA is “fomenting demand for human body parts taken from babies who are aborted,” the pro-life letter said. “We expect far better of our federal agencies — especially under the leadership of a courageous pro-life president — entrusted with the health of American citizens.”

The FDA’s contracts with ABR reportedly go back to 2012, according to a World Magazine article published by BP Aug. 14.

Among the other signers were SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser; Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council; Jeanne Mancini, president, March for Life; Catherine Glenn Foster, president, Americans United for Life; Penny Young Nance, president, Concerned Women for America; Lila Rose, president, Live Action; Eunie Smith, president, Eagle Forum; David Stevens, chief executive officer, Christian Medical Association; and Roland Warren, president, Care Net.

In its response to the CNS News report, the FDA — an agency within HHS — said it is “committed to ensuring that its research is conducted responsibly, conforms with all legal requirements, and meets the highest ethical standards.” Its statement also said “research involving human fetal tissue accounts for a very small fraction” of its total research.

The pro-life letter replied to the FDA’s defense by saying, “These experiments using aborted fetal organs are neither responsible nor do they meet even modest ethical standards, and there are serious questions about the legality of methods used to procure the aborted baby organs and tissue.”

Research using aborted fetal organs is unnecessary as well, according to the letter.

“[G]ood scientific alternatives exist to this grisly sourcing, including use of human umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult peripheral blood stem cells,” the letter said.

In addition to the FDA, the National Institutes of Health also continues to fund research with fetal tissue, the pro-life leaders said.

The letter cited investigations by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Senate Judiciary Committee that reported evidence of the violation of federal laws on the purchase and sale of fetal tissue. ABR was among the organizations referred for criminal investigation for possibly colluding with abortion facilities and potentially profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted babies, according to the letter.

The investigations came after undercover videos in 2015 provided evidence that Planned Parenthood, the country’s No. 1 abortion provider, allegedly was trading in body parts from aborted babies. The secretly recorded videos appeared to show various Planned Parenthood executives discussing their sale of fetal parts, as well as their willingness to manipulate the lethal procedure to preserve organs for sale and use.