Just yesterday, the fight to protect the sanctity of life gained an important victory when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) canceled a contract that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had with Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR), a fetal tissue procurement organization that has been referred for criminal investigation.
The ACLJ had just launched a major advocacy campaign calling for the end of taxpayer funding for the sale of aborted babies body parts; and after gaining more than 40,000 signatures in less than 24 hours, the taxpayer-funded FDA fetal tissue program was canceled. This is a huge victory.
Recent reports have detailed the incredibly disturbing research that was being conducted by the FDA: using the body parts of aborted babies, the FDA was creating “humanized mice.”
The horrendous nature of this research is multifaceted. The creation of mice with human immune systems is horrific enough, but that these mice are being created using the body parts of innocent babies is unthinkable. Second, it was extremely concerning that in conducting its research, the FDA has contracted with ABR.
Here’s the backstory. As we recently reminded you, three years ago the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of undercover investigation videos that exposed the despicable practices of Big Abortion and the profits being made from the sale of aborted baby body parts.
In the wake of CMP’s undercover videos, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives launched separate investigations into Planned Parenthood and several fetal tissue procurement businesses that work with Planned Parenthood. As a result of its investigation, the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary recommended eight organizations, including ABR and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI “for investigation and potential prosecution for violations of the law that bans the buying or selling of human fetal tissue, 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2, and the criminal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371.”
Similarly, at the conclusion of its investigation the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce made fifteen “criminal and regulatory referrals to federal, state, and local authorities,” including a recommendation that the District Attorney of Riverside, California, “conduct a thorough investigation into whether Advanced Bioscience Resources violated” 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2, Cal. Health & Safety Code § 125320(a), and California Penal Code § 367f(a). Moreover, the Committee “sent [a] criminal referral to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch . . . urging [her] to conduct an investigation into whether ABR violated federal and state statutes and regulations, and to take appropriate action if the investigation reveals criminal behavior.”
In November 2017, the FBI requested that the Senate provide the FBI with the unredacted documents it obtained during the course of its investigation, “signaling agents may be investigating whether Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers illegally sold fetal tissue and body parts.” And in December 2017, the DOJ also requested unredacted copies of the Senate’s records “in order to further investigate these matters.”
Importantly, the ACLJ does not know the status of any potential criminal investigation of ABR. But based on public reporting and publicly available correspondence between congressional committees and the DOJ and FBI, a criminal investigation of ABR may, in fact, be underway. One thing is certain, however: ABR was among the entities specifically referred for criminal investigation to the DOJ and FBI.
Shockingly, despite CMP’s released footage and the Senate and House investigations and referrals for criminal investigation by the DOJ and the FBI, in July the FDA announced its intent to contract with ABR to “acquire Tissue for Humanized Mice.” The FDA cited its intent to contract as being in accordance with 41 U.S.C. 3304(a)(1). Now, 41 U.S.C. 3304(a)(1) is an exemption from competitive procedures in awarding government contracts. This allows the government to award a contract directly to an organization. In sum, the FDA was saying that “ABR is the only company in the U.S. capable of supplying tissues suitable for HM research. No other company or organization is capable of fulfilling the need. . . . ABR is the only company that can provide the human fetal tissue needed to continue the ongoing research being led by the FDA.”
Again – the only organization that can supply the FDA with the body parts of aborted babies to create mice with humanized immune systems is an organization which has been referred for criminal investigation. And it was your tax dollars – $15,900 to be exact – that were being used to purchase these baby parts.
“The only company in the U.S. capable of supplying tissues suitable for . . . research.” Such a small sentence to sum up the despicable practices that caused the U.S. Senate and House to recommend criminal investigation. The Senate report described how “ABR technicians working at the Planned Parenthood clinics obtain the [aborted babies] from the Planned Parenthood staff and then harvest and immediately ship the fetal tissue specimens.” It further described the payment received for those precious babies’ body parts:
For example, on one day in June of 2014, the ABR technician obtained a 20-week-old [aborted baby] at a PPPSW clinic. From the one [baby], ABR sold its brain to one customer for $325; both of its eyes for $325 each ($650 total) to a second customer; a portion of its liver for $325 to a third customer; its thymus for $325 and another portion of its liver for $325 to a fourth customer; and its lung for $325 to a fifth customer. . . . So, from that single [baby] for which ABR paid PPPSW a mere $60, ABR charged its customers a total of $2,275 for tissue specimens, plus additional charges for shipping and disease screening.
The House Committee also investigated ABR’s business model and fees, and “uncovered evidence that ABR may have violated 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2 and the California Health and Safety Law.”
Thankfully, after being alerted to the concerns of the ACLJ and others in the pro-life community surrounding this research and ABR’s practices, HHS canceled the contracts. Late yesterday, HHS issued the following statement:
After a recent review of a contract between Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration to provide human fetal tissue to develop testing protocols, HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements. As a result, that contract has been terminated, and HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations. In addition, HHS has initiated a comprehensive review of all research involving fetal tissue to ensure consistency with statutes and regulations governing such research, and to ensure the adequacy of procedures and oversight of this research in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved. Finally, HHS is continuing to review whether adequate alternatives exist to the use of human fetal tissue in HHS funded research and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated.
This victory is an incredible step forward in the pro-life fight, and one and shows just how important it is that we let our government know that we are not okay with our tax dollars being used in such appalling and shameful ways.
Further, not only is HHS canceling the contract with ABR, but it also has initiated an “audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue,” a “comprehensive review of all research involving fetal tissue,” and “alternatives . . . to the use of human fetal tissue.” Each of these are major victories. Finally, in addition to legal and regulatory considerations, it is important to note that HHS his mandating that “moral and ethical considerations” be included in each of these reviews – a significant change in the valuing of unborn human life.
Now is the time for us to act. No longer do we want the government to conduct research that supposedly benefits the health of the American public but comes at the cost of innocent lives. In contracting with ABR, the FDA was helping create a market for baby parts – this is quite the opposite of protecting life; it is taking life. HHS’s move to end this contract shows that we have an Administration that values the sanctity of human life.
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