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April 16, 2021 Press Release


April 16, 2021




HHS Lifts Trump Era Restrictions on Medical Research

Move to End Review by Biased Panel Begins to Restore Balance at Agency


Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will lift Trump era restrictions on federal funding for research that relies on fetal tissue and is ending the practice of requiring review by the heavily slanted panel that was tasked with reviewing applications. 


Statement from Mary Alice Carter, Senior Advisor, Equity Forward:


“Today’s announcement shows that we are on our way to resetting the balance at HHS, ensuring that evidence, not ideology, once again guides decision making at our nation’s health department. It was never acceptable that the anti-abortion movement was able to override the advice of medical and scientific experts. The restrictions on research using fetal tissue and required review by a biased advisory panel disrupted the advancement of cures and treatments for diseases that are desperately needed by people in the United States and around the world.” 




In 2019, the Trump administration issued restrictions banning the use of newly acquired fetal tissue in federally funded research. This decision came contrary to the word of NIH scientists, and rather, at the behest of anti-abortion lobbyists with outsized influence over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The influence resulted in the formation of a new “Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board”, to be housed within NIH, in February 2020 that was overwhelmingly made up of members with ties to the anti-aboriton movement. 


Of the 15 Advisory Board members, Equity Forward found that 10 of them have anti-abortion views and connections that have influenced their scientific research and policy decisions including five associated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute — the research arm of the anti-abortion extremist group Susan B. Anthony List, which worked with this administration to roll back research using fetal tissue in the first place.