The chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee April 20 called on the Biden administration to fund research "that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion."
"The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
"Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research," he said.
His remarks were a reaction to a notice the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., posted April 16 in the grants area of its website announcing the end of a Trump administration ban on research involving human fetal tissue acquired from elective abortions.
In addition, NIH and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will no longer convene the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.
Under President Donald Trump, the two agencies had established the board to review research applications for NIH grants, cooperative agreements, and research and development contracts that proposed using fetal tissue from elective abortions.
The previous administration also terminated contracts with outside institutions that used fetal stem cells for research.
According to Roll Call, a news outlet on Capitol Hill, the decision to lift the ban came after 26 House Democrats wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging this policy change.
"It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion," Archbishop Naumann said in his statement. "Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies."
It is a move in the wrong direction, agreed Tara Sander Lee, senior fellow and director of life sciences at Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research and education arm of the Susan B. Anthony List.
"There are superior and ethical alternatives available such as adult stem-cell models being used by countless scientists worldwide to develop and produce advanced medicines treating patients now, without exploitation of any innocent life," she said. "All scientists should reject the administration's attempts to prey on fears related to the pandemic to advance the practice of harvesting fetal tissue."