Scientific research has long been considered one of humankind's most vital contributions to the planet. For centuries scientists have moved forward collectively to try to eradicate diseases through research — and at the best of times, this research has been supported by the government. Until now, that is. Until President Donald Trump and his administration's new, quiet war against scientific advancement. This week, the Trump administration announced limitations on fetal tissue research and the decision undoubtedly threatens important scientific developments for vaccines and more, all in the name of an ideology he appears to support above all else.
On Wednesday, June 5, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided not to renew a fetal tissue contract with the University of California in San Francisco that was set to expire, according to Nature. Fetal tissue research is the use of dead fetal tissue collected from the remains of a fetus from an elective abortion, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
The HHS released a statement about the decision, noting that the promotion of "the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration."
The statement continued, "The audit and review helped inform the policy process that led to the administration’s decision to let the contract with UCSF expire and to discontinue intramural research – research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – involving the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortion. Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted."
Fetal tissue has been a vital part of scientific research since the 1930s, according to CNN. In the early days, fetal tissue was used to develop important vaccines, contributing to the virtual eradication of polio, measles, and rubella.
More recently, fetal tissue has been used in stem cell research to find cures for degenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease, as well as working towards creating vaccines for children's cancer, HIV, Ebola, and Zika.
It's important to note that fetal tissue used in important scientific research can only be collected once a woman has already decided to have an abortion, according to the American Medical Association. Only then can clinic staff ask if she would be willing to donate the fetal tissue to scientific research.
In other words, the decision by the Trump administration to limit fetal tissue research will stunt scientific development on a massive level, and for what? To continue the administration's war against choice.
Following the Trump administration's decision to stymie fetal tissue research, Megan Donovan, Senior Policy Manager at the Guttmacher Institute, issued a statement on June 5, highlighting how this could threaten the development of major scientific advances.
"The fact that this move is being celebrated by anti-abortion advocacy groups underscores that all of this is part of a long-standing campaign to target abortion providers and stigmatize abortion care," Donovan said. "Despite the President’s pledge to ‘end the HIV epidemic,’ today’s announcement poses a direct threat to crucial research to find treatments for HIV and other health threats."
The statement continued, "Fetal tissue research is subject to stringent laws and regulations and has been for decades. Ideologues should not be allowed to stand in for real doctors and scientists when the government is making decisions about life-saving medicine."
The support of fetal tissue research has long been supported by the federal government. According to MSNBC, when the law authorizing the research was first brought to Congress in 1993, it was passed with a vote of 93 to 4, proving both Republicans and Democrats were behind it.
Now 26 years later, the Trump administration appears to be making unilateral decisions that will absolutely hurt the efficacy of scientific research for years to come. All because of an anti-choice agenda.