The Food and Drug Administration assured the Daily Caller News Foundation Friday that it has not entered into any contracts “for the purchase of human fetal tissue” since 2018.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s response follows documentation obtained by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch showing that it procured fetal organs, tissue, and heads for research that involved “humanized mice.”
In a Friday statement to the DCNF, the FDA did not deny purchasing the unborn baby body parts and downplayed its use of human fetal tissue, saying it was only used in “critical” situations.
“Since 2018, the FDA has not entered into any contracts for the purchase of human fetal tissue,” the FDA told the DCNF, adding that “prior research involving human fetal tissue accounted for a very small fraction of the FDA’s total research.”
The FDA requested “fresh and never frozen” fetal organs, according to previous documents uncovered by the Judicial Watch lawsuit.
Fetal tissue is used in a number of research projects looking for cures and treatments including Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injury, eye disease and HIV, but religious and pro-life advocates argue the practice is unethical since the fetal tissue comes from aborted babies.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has repeatedly defended itself from accusations that it sells fetal tissue. The organization publicly acknowledged that they were paid for fetal tissue but said that they were only reimbursed for costs, then subsequently said they would no longer accept even reimbursements.
Pro-life activists like David Daleiden have previously noted that some unborn babies may have cardiac activity when their organs are harvested, suggesting the babies may have still been alive. The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this point.
Judicial Watch obtained the communications, which span 2012 and 2013, through a 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The lawsuit asked for all communications and documentation between the FDA and the human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) related to human fetal tissue intended for use in humanized mice research — a process in which researchers implant undeveloped human tissue cells into living mice.
A federal court then ordered HHS to release more information about aborted fetal tissue harvesting, such as the price per organ or “line item prices” that the government paid to ABR, Judicial Watch said. The court said “there is reason to question” whether the transactions violate federal law, which bans the sale of fetal organs.
“Chopping up aborted human beings for their organs and tissue is a moral and legal outrage,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a Tuesday statement. “This issue should be front and center in any debate about America’s barbaric abortion industry.”
In July 2019, HHS banned the NIH internal research team from using fetal tissue and installed ethics boards to oversee all future federally funded research.
But in April, President Joe Biden’s administration reversed this ban.
“We believe that we have to do the research it takes to make sure that we are incorporating innovation and getting all of those types of treatments and therapies out there to the American people,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in April.
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