Anti-abortion activists set off the uproar by releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials that raised questions of whether the organization was profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has denied making any profit and said it charges fees solely to cover its costs.
University laboratories that buy such cells strongly defend their research, saying tissue that would otherwise be thrown out has played a vital role in lifesaving medical advances and holds great potential for further breakthroughs.
Fetal cells are considered ideal because they divide rapidly, adapt to new environments easily and are less susceptible to rejection than adult cells when transplanted.
A top government watchdog group obtained 165 pages of records from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealing that the FDA under the Obama administration paid $96,370 for “fresh and never frozen” tissue from first and second trimester aborted fetuses to use in creating ‘humanized mice’ for ongoing research.”
The purchases included eight contracts signed “between 2012 and 2018” with the non-profit group Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) to acquire the baby body parts.
ABR was the subject of numerous past criminal referrals issued by House and Senate committees, stated the watchdog. Lawmakers are also investigating whether Planned Parenthood “or any other entity was illegally profiting from the handling of fetal tissue from aborted babies,” the press release stated.
Senior Catholic leaders in the United States and Canada, along with other antiabortion groups, are raising ethical objections to promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates that are manufactured using cells derived from human fetuses electively aborted decades ago. They have not sought to block government funding for the vaccines, which include two candidate vaccines that the Trump administration plans to support with an investment of up to $1.7 billion, as well as a third candidate made by a Chinese company in collaboration with Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). But they are urging funders and policymakers to ensure that companies develop other vaccines that do not rely on such human fetal cell lines and, in the United States, asking the government to “incentivize” firms to only make vaccines that don’t rely on fetal cells.