December 13, 2018 Press Release

Watchdog Group Launches Ad Buy Calling on Secretary Azar to Protect Lifesaving Research

Ad is running in tandem with sham House hearing

12.13.18 – Equity Forward placed a full-page ad in today’s POLITICO calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to put people before politics and stop cutting millions of dollars in lifesaving research at the behest of a small group of anti-abortion hardliners.

“By putting almost $100 million dollars of lifesaving research at risk, Alex Azar is elevating far-right ideology ahead of sound science and what’s best for our health,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward Action.

“It’s unacceptable that Azar is pandering to Washington lobbyists and jeopardizing important research that could find cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV.   

“Azar should listen to the scientific and medical community when it comes to making life or death decisions, not a small group of out-of-touch hardliners who will stop at nothing to fulfill their crusade to criminalize abortion.”


The ad runs before a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on exploring unproven “alternatives” to this type of science-backed research. This research has been critical to developing lifesaving vaccines for diseases such as polio, chickenpox, rabies, and rubella and is critical to ongoing research on cures for Parkinson’s Alzheimer's, and HIV. Eliminating or significantly altering this research could delay or derail scientific advancements that could lead to lifesaving cures.

Additional Background:

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a funding announcement for finding alternatives to using cells from fetal tissue in research, despite the fact that vaccines developed by relying on such research have played a large part in saving and improving the lives of billions of people. That funding announcement followed the news that HHS shut down a study that could potentially find a cure for HIV because the research relies on cells derived from fetal tissue. The assault on this type of research comes a little over two months after Secretary Azar — bowing to pressure from the anti-abortion lobby — abruptly cancelled a long-standing contract with a fetal tissue provider while also announcing “a comprehensive review” of all fetal tissue research and procurement. This flies in the face of the scientific community, 64 of whom submitted a letter recently urging Congress to protect lifesaving research.

It has been reported that Azar is considering discontinuing more than $100 million in research projects involving fetal tissue and is soliciting input on plans from anti-abortion interest groups including Susan B Anthony (SBA) List, whose President was an outspoken Trump campaigner. In addition to holding extreme and out-of-touch views on abortion — including advocating for abortion bans without an exception for rape and incest — SBA List also promotes the work of the man who champions such bogus science as the idea that a woman’s body has properties to protect her from getting pregnant after rape.