Trump Announces New Ethics Board for Government-Funded Research on Aborted Baby Parts

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The Trump administration announced Wednesday the creation of a new ethics advisory board that will look into the use of aborted baby parts in taxpayer-funded research.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced the establishment of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, which will be overseen by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and “will be composed of 15 individuals who are not federal employees.”

HHS is soliciting nominations of individuals for appointment to the board for fiscal year 2020. Nominations for qualified individuals for appointment are currently being accepted and must be received within 30 days of the notice’s publication in the Federal Register (February 20).

The announcement says the board must include at least one attorney, one ethicist, one practicing physician and one theologian. And, between one-third and one-half of the appointed members must be “scientists with substantial accomplishments in biomedical or behavioral research.”

“The fact is aborted fetal tissue hasn’t been used to create the cure of a single disease,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, last year after HHS announced that the NIH would discontinue research involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion. “However, tax dollars have been contributing to an industry that fosters the trafficking of body parts from aborted babies. There is absolutely no reason to use these grisly remains when ethical and effective alternatives exist including human umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult peripheral blood stem cells.”

According to the announcement, “The Ethics Board will advise, consult with, and make recommendations … regarding the ethics of research involving human fetal tissue. …

“Recommendations will address whether the Secretary should withhold funds or not withhold funds from a proposed project because of ethical considerations. In providing advice and recommendations on these matters, the Ethics Board will consider, among other things, the use of alternative models, and review and verify the core ethical principles and procedures used in the process to obtain written voluntary informed consent for the donation of the tissue. The ethical considerations the Ethics Board should consider are those related to whether the nature of the research involved is such that it is unethical to conduct or support the research.”

The board’s meetings will be open to the public unless determined otherwise by the Secretary.

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