WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the termination of a contract between the Food and Drug Administration and Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. The news comes after members of Congress and pro-life advocates expressed concern about the research goals of the experiment.
The announcement was made Sept. 24 in a statement posted on the HHS departmental website.
“After a recent review of a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration to provide human fetal tissue to develop testing protocols, HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements,” the statement read.
“As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal-tissue research laws and regulations.”
The department also announced a “comprehensive review” of any research involving fetal tissue and that it will be seeking “adequate alternatives” to avoid the use of human fetal tissue altogether.
HHS will, the statement said, “ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.”
In July, the Food and Drug Administration signed a $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR) to procure fetal tissues obtained from elective abortions. The tissue was to be used in the creation of “humanized mice.” The mice would be injected with the tissues, causing them to develop an immune system similar to that of a human for the purposes of clinical testing. This is called a “chimeric animal.”
After news of the deal was reported, several members of Congress spoke out in a letter requesting that the FDA terminate the contract. The letter raised concerns that ABR may have violated federal law concerning the sale of fetal remains.
In 2016, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Senate Judiciary Committee both investigated ABR as part of a larger inquiry into the fetal-tissue industry.
ABR admitted to “upselling” certain fetal parts for a larger fee.
“In light of the serious unresolved questions uncovered by the investigative work of both the House and Senate panels, we are alarmed that the FDA has continued to award contracts to ABR for the procurement of human fetal tissue,” the legislators wrote.
The letter also called for an end to the use of fetal remains in scientific research.
“The practice of conducting research using the body parts of children whose lives have been violently ended by abortion is abhorrent.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement Tuesday that, while she is thankful that HHS had ended the “horrific” contract with ABR, the move was “just a first step” and that the federal government continues to use fetal remains in experiments.
Speaking to CNA, Mancini said she was “grateful to Secretary [Alex] Azar and HHS for terminating this unconscionable government contract,” but stressed that there is more to be done.
“The majority of the controversy and taxpayer money is focused on National Institutes of Health, where the director, Frances Collins, has voiced support for this inhumane experimentation,” she told CNA.
“Despite videos from Center for Medical Progress unmasking the illicit baby parts trade, this grisly industry continues to be propped up by massive amounts of federal money. All of it should be redirected toward successful and life-affirming alternatives.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser was grateful that this particular contract had been canceled, but said it was a “completely inadequate” response to the larger scandal of aborted remains being purchased with public money.
“Secretary Azar must put an immediate moratorium on funding for research using aborted baby organs and tissue purchased from the abortion industry,” said Dannenfelser, who called for tax dollars to be diverted to “ethical alternatives” that have produced successful results in patients.