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Federal fetal transplant ban continues.

Federal fetal transplant ban continues

Last week the Bush Administration extended a 20-month ban on federal funding for research involving fetal tissue transplantation. Anti-abortionists hail that decision, but many biomedical scientists criticize the ban. They say the moratorium puts on hold promising research that may offer hope to victims of diabetes, Parkinson's and other debilitating disorders.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Louis W. Sullivan sent a letter announcing the HHS decision to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds much of the nation's biomedical research. "After carefully reviewing all of the materials, I am persuaded that one must accept the likelihood that permitting the human fetal research at issue will increase the incidence of abortion across the country," Sullivan wrote.

The ban does not apply to other research using fetal tissue, but only to the transplantation of human fetal tissue from induced abortions. Scientists claim it is almost impossible to get usable tissue for research purposes after a spontaneous abortion. Fetal tissue transplantation research continues in several countries, including Sweden and Mexico.

The HHS decision runs counter to the recommendation of an NIH advisory panel, which last year called the use of aborted human fetal tissue "morally acceptable." That 21-member panel said that fetal cell transplantation research in the United States should continue (SN: 9/24/88, p.197).

Many scientists urge President Bush to follow the advice of that panel and lift the U.S. ban. "We fully respect the views of those opposed to [abortion]," says Pamela B. Davis, the president of the American Federation for Clinical Research (AFCR). "However, the use of tissue and organs obtained from deceased fetuses should not be considered in the context of abortion."
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Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 11, 1989
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