San Francisco, Calif., Sep 12, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Federal research agencies’ purchase of fetal tissue and body parts from a company under investigation for illegally selling them has drawn criticism from the investigative journalism group that filmed undercover videos exposing the practice.
“Advanced Bioscience Resources is under federal investigation right now for colluding with Planned Parenthood to sell aborted baby body parts for profit,” David Daleiden, Center for Medical Progress lead, said Sept. 10. “It is unconscionable that the United States government is still paying top-dollar in taxpayer money for the freshest, most high-quality dismembered baby hearts, lungs, livers, and brains.”
“By custom-ordering late-term aborted baby body parts for sale from Planned Parenthood partners like (Advanced Bioscience Resources), the FDA is directly complicit in these abortions and implies that these kids are worth more to the U.S. government dead than alive,” Daleiden continued.
At issue is the potential that fetal tissue is being sold illegally. Federal law does not allow fetal tissue or body parts to be sold for profit.
On July 25 the Food and Drug Administration signed a $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc., a California based not-for-profit, to acquire human fetal tissue for medical research using mice. It is the eighth contract between the FDA and the company since 2012, and seven of the contracts appear to relate to the same or similar programs.
The Center for Medical Progress has released a report saying its primary sources show that the non-profit company Advanced Bioscience Resources “sold aborted fetal specimens at prices far higher than its legally reimbursable costs.” Emails obtained through a public records request include an email to a University of Utah customer that shows the non-profit company admitting to billing almost twice its reimbursable costs. This was an admission to “massively overbilling,” the Center for Medical Progress charged.
Customer invoices show billing techniques like using multiple specimen charges for each body part, even if they were harvested at one time and shipped together in one package. The company’s fee schedules also show unexplained increases, the report says.
The fetal tissue used in research is obtained from elective abortions, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
The fetal tissue the FDA intends to purchase would be injected into mice with compromised immune systems in order to create a “chimeric animal” with an immune system like that of a human being.
The non-profit provider of fetal tissue was mentioned in a series of videos secretly filmed by the Center for Medical Progress, released in 2015, which also accuse Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue obtained through abortions.
The Center for Medical Progress claimed Advanced Bioscience Resources is “one of the largest and oldest companies dedicated solely to harvesting and reselling body parts from abortion,” with technicians stationed at Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics across the U.S. These technicians identify and dissect fetal body parts for shipment.
One Center for Medical Progress video shows a procurement technician for the company appearing to admit to seeing fully intact fetuses delivered at abortion clinics when the company intended to harvest tissue.
The company “contracted for decades with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, based in southern California, to harvest aborted fetal specimens at Planned Parenthood in San Diego and Riverside for $60 per specimen and then resell them to taxpayer-funded researchers for up to $6,000 per specimen,” the Center for Medical Progress report charged.
In July, the FDA defended its contract and the research, saying that the agency is “committed to ensuring that its research is conducted responsibly, conforms with all legal requirements, and meets the highest ethical standards.” It told CNSNews.com this type of research is a “very small fraction” of the agency’s work. At the same time, the FDA defended the use of aborted human remains in research, saying the practice has led to “a better understanding of a number of conditions and diseases that affect millions of Americans.”
In the last two years, the National Institutes of Health have spent over $200 million on research projects using fetal tissue, the Center for Medical Progress report says, citing NIH’s own categorical spending report. NIH research conducted in government laboratories accounted for $20 million of this spending in 2017 alone.
Following two investigations, Congressional committees made criminal referrals for both the non-profit company and Planned Parenthood. There is an active Department of Justice investigation based on the criminal referrals.
“HHS must provide full transparency and immediately terminate any and all such contracts, and the U.S. Department of Justice needs to do their job and hold (Advanced Bioscience Resources), Planned Parenthood, and those like them accountable to the law,” Daleiden said.
The Center for Medical Progress said the company is similar to two companies successfully prosecuted for illegal sale of fetal tissue. DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences admitted guilt and ceased California operations in a $7.8 million settlement with a California district attorney.
The report also addresses experimental therapy products made with fetal specimens, products the report alleges to be “ineffective and dangerous.”
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