NIH issues new guidelines for funding research on aborted fetal tissue

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2019 / 03:16 pm (CNA).- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have issued new guidelines with restrictions for scientists seeking federal grants to use tissue from aborted babies for research.

The NIH said in a July 26 notice that ethics advisory boards will be involved in the review of applications to use human fetal tissue (HFT) obtained from elective abortions, and will be composed of “scientists, bio-ethicists and others.”

The new NIH guidelines require grant applicants wishing to make use of the tissue from aborted babies to provide “a justification of the use of HFT, details regarding procurement and costs, and information about how the applicant/contract offeror will use HFT,” or their application will not be reviewed. This section of the grant application has a 12-page limit.

The Trump administration announced in June that it would limit funding for research using tissue from aborted babies.

On June 5, the Trump administration announced that it declined to renew a contract with the University of California that funded a research program which used fetal tissue obtained from abortions, following a “comprehensive review” by the Department of Health and Human Services, announced in September 2018, into any research involving fetal tissue.

That non-renewal means that the National Institutes for Health does not currently fund any research that involves aborted remains.

According to the NIH, future grant applicants must indicate why their research goals “cannot be accomplished using an alternative to HFT” and what methods they have used to determine that no alternatives can be used.

In addition, applicants must describe what they plan to do with the human fetal tissue and how they will dispose of it when research is complete. They must describe a planned written, voluntary, informed consent process for cell/tissue donation, or a description and documentation of the process if cells or tissue were already obtained.

The informed consent to allow tissue from an aborted baby to be used for research, given by the mother, must be obtained by someone other than the person who obtained consent to perform the abortion, the NIH states.

In addition, consent for use of human fetal tissue must be given after the informed consent for abortion, in order that it will not affect the method of abortion. The researcher must certify that there were no “enticements, benefits, or financial incentives” used to incentivize abortion or the donation of the aborted baby’s tissue.

For the first time, the rules forbid graduate and postdoctoral students who receive NIH training funds from proposing fetal tissue research, The Washington Post reports.

The rules will apply to new grants submitted after Sept. 25.

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