President Trump handed abortion foes what the AP calls "a major victory" Wednesday as his administration announced it will end medical research using human fetal tissue at the National Institutes of Health. The New York Times says this has been a "top goal" of anti-abortion groups, but some scientists say there is simply no other way to study certain health issues and argue that such research benefits millions. Privately funded research will not be affected, and government funded research at most universities will be allowed to continue for now, but will be subject to a review by a new ethics advisory board as to whether funding will be renewed. The administration is, however, canceling one $2-million-per-year contract with the University of California, San Francisco, for such research, and one bioethics professor tells Forbes the move is likely a "death knell" for all fetal tissue research in the US.
Research using fetal tissue has led to such advances as drugs to treat HIV and vaccines for rabies and rubella. Scientists say the research is still needed in order to make advances on an HIV vaccine, research on blindness and birth defects, and treatments for numerous other health threats including the Zika virus. "It will affect everything from cures for cancer and HIV through to Parkinson’s and dementia," one public health law professor says. "The ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life threatening and debilitating diseases." But "promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement announcing the decision. (A Democratic governor recently signed abortion legislation.)