Top Dems Seek Documents on Trump Administration’s Plans to Restrict Fetal Tissue Research

Jul 17, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 17, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, sent a bicameral letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting documents relating to the Trump Administration’s recent decision to restrict fetal tissue research.

“The Department’s decision, which appears to have been made with no evidence of improper actions by researchers, threatens to interfere with important biomedical research and have long-term consequences,” Cummings and Murray wrote.  “The Department’s decision also reflects this Administration’s continued prioritization of ideology over the critical work of the research community and at the expense of scientific advancement.”

The use of fetal tissue has been standard practice in biomedical research for decades and has been instrumental in the development of vaccines against polio, rubella, measles, chickenpox, and treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia.  In addition, fetal tissue research has been used to advance treatments for developmental disorders like autism, as well as degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  The scientific community agrees that there is currently no adequate scientific alternative to fetal tissue research.

“The Department’s decision appears to be driven by outside forces that have pressured the Administration to take extreme ideological positions that are unsupported by science,” Cummings and Murray wrote.  “The decision to halt funding for fetal tissue research could have unintended long-term consequences.  The biomedical research community has looked to HHS to promote the highest standards of scientific autonomy, yet this latest step shows the Department is no longer fulfilling its leadership role.”

More than sixty organizations and institutions have voiced serious concerns about the Administration’s efforts to restrict fetal tissue research. 

Click here to read today’s letter to Secretary Azar.




116th Congress