December 14, 2018 Press Release

ICYMI: WaPo Reveals HHS, Anti-Abortion Lobby in Cahoots to Gut Lifesaving Research

Article published in advance of sham Congressional hearing where anti-abortion hardliners lied about need for research

12.13.18 – Earlier today, The Washington Post detailed how anti-abortion ideologues within Trump’s health department are working in tandem with the anti-abortion lobby to target lifesaving research that uses fetal tissue to find cures for diseases like HIV, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already shut down one HIV research study and — despite strong objections from the scientific and medical community — appears poised to cancel almost $100 million in additional research.

Equity Forward provided research for this piece, specifically on the close ties between HHS and Susan B Anthony (SBA) List.  For example, Steven Valentine — who is  one of the HHS officials deeply involved in the decisions over fetal tissue research funding — used to work at SBA List, and his brother Billy is currently a Vice President at the organization.

Today’s reporting also revealed that Secretary Azar is leading this anti-science charge; according to HHS officials, he ordered the review of the research after a contract came to his attention.  Moreover, today’s piece is further evidence that HHS is consulting political groups outside of the scientific community on this issue, with Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir claiming that the “science part is being run by scientific people.”

Today’s WaPo piece was published in advance of a sham hearing held today in the House on “alternatives” to fetal tissue, where two representatives from SBA List’s research arm, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, testified.  One of the CLI witnesses, Tara Sander Lee, began her testimony by lying about the necessity and impact of fetal tissue funding, flying in the face of experts at the National Institute of Health (NIH).  Her colleague David Prentice made similar claims, stating that “ample scientific alternatives exist” to fetal tissue research, though scientists also refute those claims.

In light of today’s hearing, Equity Forward also took out a full-page ad in Politico telling HHS Secretary Azar not to cut the funding for lifesaving research.