ACLJ Sends FOIA Request to Biden’s HHS To Expose and End Use of Aborted Babies’ Body Parts for Experimentation With Federal Tax Dollars


Benjamin P. Sisney

April 7, 2021

6 min read

Pro Life



The Biden Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to fund research that involves using aborted babies’ body parts for experimentation, including with federal taxpayer dollars. The ACLJ has recently sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to HHS to get to the bottom of this disgusting practice. The American taxpayers should know how their tax dollars are being spent. On behalf of our supporters, who deeply value and respect life, we are seeking accountability from our government.

Our FOIA request seeks records to determine the moral considerations that HHS has (or hasn’t) taken in undertaking its funding of continued research and creation of humanized mice using aborted human remains. We are concerned about a particular contract HHS has with the University of Pittsburgh. According to news reports: “University of Pittsburgh researchers obtained the bodies of aborted babies from a local hospital, grafting the babies’ scalps to rodents for an immunology experiment.” In this study, researchers used human skin and engrafted it over rodents’ rib cages.

This isn’t some ghoulish science fiction film; this is how your tax dollars are being spent. And it’s repulsive.

This type of research has been going on for years. You will recall our case against Planned Parenthood where we represent a former board member of the Center for Medical Progress, which famously uncovered Planned Parenthood’s sickening practices of harvesting aborted babies’ organs and body parts, which were then sent to researchers for experimentation. One infamous example was when a senior director for Planned Parenthood was caught on tape joking about buying a “Lamborghini” after negotiating prices for babies’ body parts.

Planned Parenthood ended up filing a lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress, which had posted disturbing undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood and other abortionists’ atrocities for the world to see. After being exposed, the abortion giant went on the offensive to try to discredit and tarnish the group of pro-life investigative journalists.

The type of research that HHS and the University of Pittsburgh are engaging in is what fuels the sale of these aborted babies’ body parts, creating a horrific marketplace. This is why we have sent a FOIA request to try to further uncover the truth behind this terrible practice.

We are also concerned about who is in charge of the federal program that is supposed to provide safeguards to ensure that this kind of immoral and unethical experimentation doesn’t happen with federal taxpayer dollars. As we warned in a recent post, newly confirmed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra would become the most pro-abortion HHS Secretary ever. In fact, when he was Attorney General of California, he led a multi-state coalition pushing for scientific and medical research funding that dealt directly with human fetal tissue (HFT) research and experimentation. Here it is directly from the CA Attorney General’s website:

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its National Institutes of Health (NIH) urging them to reject recent recommendations made by the Trump Administration’s NIH Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board (Board). The Board’s recommendation would withhold federal funding for fetal tissue research grant proposals, putting limits on research into possible treatments and therapies for various health conditions, including COVID-19. The recommendation comes after a two-year campaign by the Trump Administration to block federally funded research using fetal tissue as well as an Executive Order to ban the research.

HHS, under the Trump Administration, implemented this National Institutes of Health Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board – something we strongly supported at the ACLJ. This board was composed of 15 individuals appointed by the Secretary who are not federal employees. The board was established on February 20, 2020. According to the board’s report for 2020, its sole responsibility was to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the HHS Secretary regarding the ethics of research involving human fetal tissue. As the board’s report explains:

The Board discussed a total of 14 research proposals (including both grants and contracts) at the July 31 meeting. In making its findings and recommendations, the Board considered the information contained in the grant applications and contract proposals. The Board assessed considerations as to whether the nature of the research involved is such that it is unethical to conduct or support the research. In doing so, the Board assessed, among other things, the scientific justification for the use and quantity of HFT proposed and the use of alternative models; reviewed and verified the core ethical principles and procedures used in the process for obtaining written, voluntary, informed consent for the donation of the tissue; and voted on recommendations to the Secretary about whether, in light of the ethical considerations, NIH should withhold funds or not withhold funds from the research projects.

In our FOIA request, the ACLJ is seeking more information regarding several matters pertaining to this research using aborted human tissue. We are seeking all records prepared, generated, forwarded, transmitted, sent, shared, saved, received, or reviewed by any HHS official or employee that concern or in any way discuss the ethical, legal, and moral considerations in:

  • Contracting, granting, or otherwise funding research involving human aborted babies’ parts, or aborted fetal tissue;
  • Considerations in contracting, granting, or funding research involving humanized mice or any other animal;
  • Records that discuss the required gestational age of the aborted fetal tissue used for research funded by HHS or any of its components;
  • Records that discuss the required procedures through which the University of Pittsburgh will obtain the aborted fetal tissue to ensure that the tissue is not damaged or spoiled in any way that makes it unsuitable for the research funded by HHS;
  • Whether clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood will be a source of the aborted fetal tissue that is acquired for any research funded or otherwise supported by HHS; and
  • Any records from November 1, 2020, to the date this request is processed, that concern or in any way discuss the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board. (We are also interested to see whether Secretary Becerra will keep this Advisory Board in place or stack it with abortion activists.)

We will keep you updated on the progress of our FOIA request, and let you know when we receive important information. In the meantime, please sign our petition and continue to support our efforts into protecting life at every stage. We cannot continue to allow the practice of using aborted fetal tissue for research.