Pelosi: McConnell helped legalize funding for fetal tissue research

Pelosi: McConnell helped legalize funding for fetal tissue research
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is defending Planned Parenthood’s controversial use of fetal tissue for research, which she adds was once backed by the Senate’s top Republican.

“When [legislation] was passed enabling research to go forward, I remind that Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat Democrats should say about guns This week: House Dems voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller MORE voted for that,” she said at a news briefing Thursday in response to several questions about Planned Parenthood’s undercover video controversy. A fourth video, which includes graphic footage of the fetal parts used for research, was released about one hour before her comments.

Pelosi refers to legislation passed in 1993 that allowed federal funding to be used for medical research involving fetal tissue, under certain conditions.

Under the law, abortion providers can give fetal tissue to researchers as long as they do not profit in any way and they do not alter their procedures for the purpose of preserving the tissue.

The research is authorized “without regard to whether the tissue is obtained after a spontaneous or induced abortion or a stillbirth,” according to the law.

McConnell’s support for the bill has been highlighted by Planned Parenthood. The group has also pointed out that House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) — who is leading the congressional investigation into the Planned Parenthood videos — also voted in favor of the legislation.

McConnell has given special attention to his party’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood in the Senate, convening a working group in his office to draft a bill, and scheduling a vote on what will likely be the Senate’s last day in session before recess. That vote is expected to be Monday.

The bill, NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, came shortly after newly elected President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMarching toward a debt crisis The tragic cycle of genocide denial has returned: This time, Nigeria John Lithgow releases poem on the downfall of Acosta MORE issued an executive order lifting a decades-old ban on research using fetal tissue.

It was authored by former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), with several Republican co-sponsors including Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), who has blasted Planned Parenthood in the wake of the videos.

Funding for fetal tissue research had been halted by the Reagan administration, though the practice had been generally accepted in the scientific community since the 1930s, according to a 2001 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

The fetal tissue program — while legal — has prompted outcry against Planned Parenthood in the wake of several graphic videos that show the fetal parts used for research.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has forcefully argued that the organization does not profit from the program, which she says contributes to “life-saving” research.

To combat the criticism, Richards wrote to the head of the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, urging a review of fetal tissue research, noting the “widespread confusion” about the research among the public.

“Government officials, medical researchers, health care providers, and the public could benefit from a review of the research and the procedures surrounding it by an independent expert panel,” Richards wrote.

During the last review in 1988, a majority of the outside panel decided “ it was acceptable public policy to support transplant research with fetal tissue,” according to its report.

Democrats have almost universally stood behind Planned Parenthood, touting its women’s health services, like cancer screenings and family planning.

But the fetal tissue donation program has come under mounting scrutiny.

One anti-abortion Democrat, Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyRepublicans make U-turn on health care Democrats press IRS on guidance reducing donor disclosure requirements Children urge Congress to renew funds for diabetes research MORE Jr. (D-Pa.), said he didn’t support defunding Planned Parenthood though he hopes that states end their fetal tissue donation practices.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (D-W.Va.) also recently signed onto a letter led by Senate Republicans that urged the Obama administration to comply with an investigation into the practice.