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Report: Top Biden science advisor defended using aborted baby parts in research while NIH director

Katie Yoder By Katie Yoder for CNA

Dr. Francis Collins / File photo

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 10, 2022 / 16:52 pm (CNA).

Pro-life leaders are challenging Dr. Francis Collins, a top Biden science advisor, after a new report claimed he defended the use of aborted baby parts for research while serving as director of the National Institutes of Health.

Collins, who identifies as a Christian and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, made his remarks during a private event at the University of Chicago in October, the Daily Wire reported, citing a leaked audio recording. He responded to a student, who asked him about National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for experiments, such as the University of Pittsburgh’s studies that involve the harvesting of aborted baby parts, at six to 42 weeks gestation, and grafting scalps of aborted babies onto lab rats. The Daily Wire noted that

While Collins said that he is “troubled” by abortion, he suggested that a moral and ethical case could be made for using the tissue of aborted fetuses.

“After all, pregnancy termination is, at the present time, legal in the United States. Whether you’re in support of it or not, it’s happened,” he said, according to the Daily Wire. “The material from those elective abortions is discarded.”

Collins, a physician-geneticist who led the NIH until December 2021, emphasized that this tissue could prove beneficial.

“There are aspects of fetal tissue that can be extremely valuable in understanding how life works, how development happens, and how to treat certain diseases like Parkinson’s disease, for instance.”

Collins shared his reasoning with the audience.

“Fetal tissue is being discarded in large quantities every day,” he said. “If there were a circumstance where, with consent of the mother, having been obtained after the abortion, not in any way as an inspiration to carry it forward, the abortion … could ultimately help somebody. Which of those two choices is more ethical — discard all the tissue or use a small part? … Can you, in fact, in some circumstances, even with actions that you consider immoral, derive something from it that might actually be moral and beneficial?”

“That’s the horns of the dilemma upon which I have been resting here for these 12 years as NIH Director, trying to oversee human fetal tissue research,” he concluded, “which is something that I have to make decisions about.”

Four months later, Collins began serving as Biden’s science adviser and co-chairman of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science.

The White House and the NIH did not respond for comment by time of publication.

The pro-life reaction

Pro-life leaders expressed shock and disappointment in Collins’ comments.

“Dr. Collins’ disregard for ethics and his defense of trafficking in aborted baby scalps, hearts, brains and eyeballs is horrific,” Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, SBA List’s education arm, told CNA. “His lack of understanding about the scientific failures of fetal tissue research versus the successes of alternatives like adult stem cells, which have already helped roughly 2 million people, displays a lack of leadership.”

Human persons, he said, are not commodities.

“Our nation needs people who value every human life, not for a person’s usefulness when parted out like a used vehicle, but rather for their intrinsic worth as a human being,” he concluded.

“Respect for the inherent dignity of the human person necessarily means that science is at the service of the person, not vice versa,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini told CNA.

Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action, responded similarly.

“Francis Collins’ comments regarding the ‘value’ of fetal tissue are horrifying and inexcusable,” she told CNA. “A preborn child’s life is infinitely valuable and should be treated as such. To argue that it is ethical to perform testing on their discarded, fully-formed bodies after they were torn apart by abortion is unthinkable and shows the extreme lack of moral judgment and leadership Collins has for the American people and their children.”

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a senior fellow with the The Catholic Association (and host of “Conversations with Consequences,” a weekly EWTN radio show), addressed Collins’ stance on science.

“It is true that valuable information may be gleaned from unethically-sourced material,” she admitted. “This has been a constant temptation in science for as long as the scientific method has been practiced. There exists, understandably, a great temptation to look to the ‘greater good’ and disregard the negative impact on the experimental subject.”

She described that negative impact.

“In the case of experimentation using fetal remains, to use the tissue for experimentation is to treat human remains without the dignity they should be accorded,” she said. “Also, it opens up a Pandora’s box of possibilities for abuse.”

“Women at a time of distress can be taken advantage of and pressed to donate the remains,” she explained. “Avaricious abortion facilities, handsomely paid to produce the specimens, are tempted to press the mothers. There is also the great temptation to change the type of procedure or its timing in order to produce the most profitable specimen, when only the mother’s safety and comfort should be consulted.”

Lauren Enriquez, who serves as the deputy media strategist of Students for Life of America, recommended Collins step down from his leadership position.

“Instead of doing his job to protect Americans, Francis Collins seeks to use the dead bodies of American victims of abortion violence to satisfy his institute’s unprincipled and ghoulish curiosities,” she said. “As long as Francis Collins remains unwilling to do his job to protect and serve ALL Americans, born and preborn, he is unfit to hold a position of authority in this country and should step down immediately.”

Catholic involvement

In 2018, the U.S. Catholic bishops similarly challenged Collins for defending NIH fetal tissue research and saying it “will continue to be the mainstay.” At the time, Greg Schleppenbach, associate director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, called Collins’ comments “deeply disturbing.”

Collins previously told CNA, in 2020, that he considers the question of whether it is ethical to use human embryos and aborted fetuses for research an “important issue to think through carefully.”

“I would be the first to say we should not be creating or destroying embryos — human embryos — for research, and we should not be terminating pregnancies for research,” he said at the time. “But if there are embryos that are left over after in vitro fertilization — and the hundreds of thousands that are never going to be used for anything, they’ll be discarded — I think it is ethical to consider ways in which research might make it possible to utilize that information to help somebody.”

He added, “likewise, if there are hundreds of thousands of fetuses that are otherwise being discarded through what is a legal process in this country, we ought to think about whether it is more ethical to throw them away, or in some rare instance to use them for research that might be life saving.”

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  1. And Dr. Collins has been for years a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences…..!! How does someone like him be invited to that position? And once attitudes like his are publicly disclosed and repeatedly supported by him , why is he still allowed in that position? The smoke of Satan is indeed coming from a fire WITHIN the Church.

    • I’ll wager that a large majority of the members of the Pontifical Academy of Scientists are abortion supporters. They do elect top names in their fields for this Academy, for their scientific reputation, not their religious. I’ll bet most are non-believers, though the ones I am familiar, including Collins, with are decent people. But most do subscribe to the same credo of contemporary academic “enlightenment.” Tragically, this credo has little respect for faith, family and truth.

    • Collins should be immediately removed from his Vatican position. His lack of moral compass makes him totally unfit for that role as well as for being the director of Health.

  2. Reptile 1: Francis Collins.

    Reptile 2: Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

    No difference…dry wood, stacked for Gehenna.

  3. “Pro-life leaders expressed shock and disappointment in Collins’ comments.”

    I don’t believe a WORD of that statement, because ‘shock and disappointment” would imply that they were surprised, and if THAT is true, by what standard would they be considered ‘leaders’?

  4. Why get on his case when the the Church hierarchy has basically mandated Catholics have the Covid vaccine? Catholic schools have been mandating children get abortion tainted vaccines for a long time as well.
    There has been no meaningful pushback on any of this since the beginning.

  5. The life of the developing infant begins at its conception. Let us honour God. We complain that we don’t have a cure for cancer, where are further advancements in physics, great artists, scientists and other scholars, Have we aborted them?

    Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

    Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

    Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.

    Leviticus 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.

    Matthew 18:14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

    The human being is the height of God’s creation, created in His own image, let us be mindful.

  6. Rationalizing brutal and immoral behaviors in the medical realm in the name of research is what the Nazis did. It is inexcusable. Mire so to allow a person like this on a Vatican committee. Select people first for expertise and then for adherence to Catholic belief and morality . If they fail on the religious criteria, move on to the next candidate.

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