Trump administration is restricting foetal tissue experimentation

Copyright: iStock/angelhell

Further limits are to be placed on experimentation of foetal tissues as President Donald Trump will begin implementing the restrictions that were announced in June 2019.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) will implement further restriction on scientific experimentation using foetal tissue as of September. However, applications that have already been submitted to the NIH by September will be processed using the old policy.

In order to access this material scientists will have to go through a lengthy application process, starting with an extensive ethical review. This raises concerns among the scientific community that it will drastically reduce the number of scientists who are given research grants; furthermore, this is likely to discourage many researchers from even applying.

Hank Greely, a bioethicist from Stanford University, said: “This does a pretty good job of doing what the pro-life people want. It makes grant applications a lot more onerous, substantially and procedurally, while allowing [the Trump administration] to say ‘We’re not completely banning it’.”

Although it appears the Trump administration is attempting to please both sides, the attempt has proven fruitless. The anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute in Arlington, Virginia, has welcomed the change; however, the institute is categorically against the use of foetal tissue in scientific research because the research uses donated tissue from women who have had elective abortions. The tissue used in these experiments would be discarded if not for scientific usage.

Despite pushback from pro-life supporters in North America, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) argue that research using foetal issue is detrimental to the search for a cure for HIV and other infectious diseases; in addition to the research in foetal development which could mean the survival of thousands of other babies.

Various scientists have expressed concerns not only for their own projects but for the projects of other scientists. Heather Pierce, senior of science policy and regulatory council at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington, has expressed concern that these roadblocks and regulations may result in many scientists avoiding experiments using foetal tissue all together. Due to it already being so difficult for young scientist to gain NIH grants, it may result in foetal research coming to a complete halt in the USA under President Trump’s regime.

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