FDA Signs Controversial Contract With Fetal-Tissue Provider

Legislators, pro-life groups and ethicists have condemned a new government contract to obtain tissue from aborted children.

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WASHINGTON — Legislators, pro-life groups and ethicists have condemned a new government contract to obtain human tissue from aborted children for use in medical research and in the creation of “humanized mice.”

The Food and Drug Administration signed a $15,900 contract to acquire human fetal tissue for use on mice July 25. The contract was signed with Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. (ABR), a California based not-for-profit. It is the eighth contract between the FDA and ABR since 2012; seven of the contracts appear to relate to the same or similar programs.

The fetal tissue used in such research is obtained from elective abortions, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

The fetal tissue the FDA intends to purchase would be injected into mice with compromised immune systems in order to create a “chimeric animal” with an immune system like that of a human being.

ABR was mentioned in a series of videos secretly filmed by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), released in 2015, accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue obtained through abortions. At that time, Politico reported that, in one video, a former medical director for Planned Parenthood said that the abortion provider had been “using ABR for over 10 years — a really long time.”

Pro-life groups have condemned the contract. The Center for Medical Progress released a statement calling the deal “unconscionable” and said that contracting with organizations like ABR makes the FDA “directly complicit in these abortions.” CMP suggested that the contracts imply that unborn children are “worth more to the U.S. government dead than alive.”

There are numerous ethical concerns, not only with the purchase of aborted fetuses, but with a lack of respect for their dignity, a Catholic ethicist told CNA.

“The FDA contract with Advance Bioscience Resources appears to be problematic on a number of different levels,” Dr. Jozef Zalot, staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said Aug. 8.

“The use of fetal tissue and cells for medical research is ethically very complicated in any situation,” he explained, saying that any research conducted with these tissues is “simply wrong.”

Scientists attempting to make new discoveries through the use of aborted fetal parts are “treating the aborted persons not as ends in themselves, but as a mean to some other end,” said Zalot.

“This violates their dignity, and it demonstrates a very dangerous utilitarian perspective on human life.”

Zalot also told CNA that he is concerned that the government, along with American taxpayers, could be complicit in abortion if taxpayer money is used to “sustain and grow a market for the remains of aborted children.”

“This creates a serious concern for Catholics, who are effectively funding not just the research, but the underlying immoral practices that provide the biological materials necessary for the research.”

The FDA released a statement defending the contract and the research, saying that the agency is “committed to ensuring that its research is conducted responsibly, conforms with all legal requirements, and meets the highest ethical standards,” and noting that this type of research is a “very small fraction” of the agency’s work.

The FDA further defended the use of aborted remains in research, saying the practice “has led to a better understanding of a number of conditions and diseases that affect millions of Americans.”

At least one member of Congress was upset with the new contract. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., tweeted Tuesday that the FDA was using federal money to create demand for aborted fetal remains, and “Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund this grotesque practice.”

Speaking to CNA, Lamborn said it was “unconscionable” for a government agency to contract with an organization collecting and selling tissue from aborted children.

“There is absolutely no excuse for the FDA to use federal dollars to procure ‘fresh’ fetal tissue for research. Advanced Bioscience Resources’ unethical practices of fetal-tissue harvesting have been well documented in both House and Senate investigations.”

The congressman said that as a state legislator he had written a law prohibiting the sale of fetal body parts and had written a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

“I have voted to end taxpayer funding of this grotesque practice and will continue fighting for the dignity of the unborn. Unborn children are worth more than the sum of their parts.”