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NIH reverses Trump administration's ban on fetal tissue research

NIH reverses Trump administration's ban on fetal tissue research
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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) officially rescinded the ban on using fetal tissues in research on Friday, reversing a Trump-era policy instituted almost two years ago.

President BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE’s NIH released a notice saying that the agency was overturning the Trump administration’s policy that required all applicants for NIH grants involving fetal tissue from elective abortions to be reviewed by an ethics board. 

The notice also said the Department of Health and Human Services and NIH will no longer assemble an NIH Human Fetal Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board. 

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“NIH reminds the community of expectations to obtain informed consent from the donor for any NIH-funded research using human fetal tissue … and of continued obligations to conduct such research only in accord with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations, including prohibitions on the payment of valuable consideration for such tissue,” the notice reads. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCDC can't regulate cruises: judge Sanders 'delighted' DeSantis asked White House to import Canadian prescription drugs Feehery: It's for the children MORE hinted at an announcement on the NIH’s fetal tissue policy was upcoming during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday. 

Later in the hearing, Rep. Ben ClineBenjamin (Ben) Lee ClineGOP votes to dump Cheney from leadership Virginia GOP set for wild, unpredictable convention Garland emphasizes national security, civil rights in budget hearing MORE (R-Va.) said, “I hope you're going to continue the Trump administration policy and that's going to be your announcement tomorrow.”

Reps. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneThe case for improving America's research and experimentation tax credit Democrats renew push for permanent child credit expansion Democrats signal House bill to go further than Biden proposal on child tax credit MORE (D-Wash.), Mark PocanMark William PocanThe Memo: The pre-Trump 'normal' is gone for good Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (D-Wis.), and Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Online school raises new concerns about cyberbullying Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (D-Ill.), who led a group of 26 Democratic House members calling for an end to the restriction on research involving fetal tissue, praised Friday’s announcement. 

“We applaud the Biden administration and Secretary Xavier Becerra for prioritizing science and reversing the Trump administration’s arbitrary barriers to both extramural and intramural researchers on the use of fetal tissue in scientific research,” the lawmakers said.

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“During a time when our country necessitates recovery that prioritizes science over politics, this is an integral step towards protecting the advancements of our scientific community,” they added. 

In the lawmakers’ letter to Becerra earlier this week, they cited that fetal tissue has been used in research to treat and study hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Zika, HIV, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and COVID-19. Scientists also used fetal tissue in developing the first polio and measles vaccines.

Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, issued a statement calling it "very disappointing" that the administration has decided to "fund research that requires aborted fetal tissue and organs."

"This type of experimental research is a gross violation of human dignity and is not where the majority of Americans want their tax dollars being spent," McClusky said. "The government has no business creating a marketplace for aborted baby body parts.”

In 2018, anti-abortion organizations mounted pressure on then-President TrumpDonald TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report MORE to stop permitting federal funding to go to research projects using fetal tissue from elective abortions. 

Trump revealed his policy in June 2019, prompting the Democratic-led House to vote to block the ban that same month. But with the Republican-majority Senate, that vote did not go anywhere. 

—Updated 4:17 p.m.