Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
The White House press secretary said on Tuesday that President Biden “respectfully disagrees” with Catholic bishops on federally-funded fetal tissue research.
At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, EWTN News Nightly’s Owen Jensen asked press secretary Jen Psaki about the Biden administration’s recent decision to remove restrictions on federally-funded fetal tissue research.
“As you well know, the administration just lifted the ban on researchers using fetal tissue from elective abortions,” Jensen said. He cited a statement of the U.S. bishops’ conference that the decision to lift the ban and allow for taxpayer-funded research with aborted fetal tissue was “deeply offensive.”
“Look, I think the White House respectfully disagrees,” Psaki said in response. “And we believe that it’s important to invest in science and look for opportunities to cure diseases, and I think that’s what this is hopeful to do.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on April 16 that it was reversing restrictions on research using fetal tissue and organs of aborted babies.
By repealing Trump-era policies, NIH would once again allow for fetal tissue research at NIH facilities. Furthermore, it said it would no longer require researchers at outside facilities seeking federal funding to first submit fetal tissue research proposals to a federal ethics advisory board.
Certain other restrictions, such as informed consent requirements and prohibitions on the unlawful sale of fetal tissue, remain in effect.
In 2019, the Trump administration had declared a moratorium on fetal tissue research at NIH facilities; it also set up a federal ethics advisory board to review federally-funded fetal tissue research proposals at outside facilities.
In response, the USCCB’s pro-life chair on April 19 condemned the decision.
“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person. Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research,” stated Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas.
“It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion,” Archbishop Naumann stated. “It is also deeply offensive to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.”
At Tuesday’s press briefing, Jensen also asked about the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
“I don’t have any personnel announcements to make,” she said of a new Vatican ambassador, calling the position “important” and promising that “we will have more in the coming months.”
Jensen also asked about a lawsuit against the Department of Education by current and former students of Christian colleges claiming LGBTQ discrimination.
“The LGBTQ community is suing the U.S. Department of Education. They say the religious exemption rule under Title IX is unconstitutional,” Jensen asked, seeking the White House response.
The lawsuit, filed March 29 in a federal district court, alleged that the Education Department unlawfully granted Title IX religious exemptions to Christian schools in cases of sex discrimination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids sex discrimination in federally-funded education activities; it includes an exemption for religious institutions.
The students filing the lawsuit said they were exposed to “conversion therapy, expulsion, denial of housing and healthcare, sexual and physical abuse and harassment” at the colleges. They said they suffered “institutionalized shame, fear, anxiety and loneliness” at the Christian schools, but could not file a successful Title IX claim due to the schools’ religious exemptions to Title IX.
On Tuesday, Psaki said she would “have to check with our legal team in general” about the case.
“Generally speaking, we support LGBTQ rights, and believe that, especially for children, and children should be able to play sports, including children and members of the LGBTQ community of course,” she said.
The Department of Education recently reversed its stance on a case in Connecticut where female athletes challenged the state’s transgender athletics policy. Four female high school runners had challenged the state’s policy of allowing biological males identifying as transgender females to participate in women’s sports. The Trump administration ruled that the policy violated Title IX. The Biden administration withdrew that finding in February.
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