Documents Reveal ‘One-Stop Fetal Tissue Shop’ at University of Pittsburgh

Documents Reveal ‘One-Stop Fetal Tissue Shop’ at University of Pittsburgh
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, in Washington on Nov. 15, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

Millions of federal tax dollars have been spent as part of an effort to create a “one-stop fetal tissue shop” at the University of Pittsburgh, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents revealed Aug. 3.

Nearly $3 million in federal funds went to the school beginning in 2015, according to more than 250 pages of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against HHS.
The lawsuit was filed after HHS failed to respond to the conservative nonprofit’s April 28 FOIA request for copies of grant applications for the university’s “tissue hub and collection site.” Judicial Watch submitted its FOIA on behalf of the Center for Medical Progress.
Judicial Watch said in a statement announcing receipt of the documents that:
  • “The aims of the project listed in the original 2015 proposal were to ‘develop a pipeline to the acquisition, quality control and distribution of human genitourinary [urinary and genital organs and functions] samples obtained throughout development (6-42 weeks gestation) ... [and] generate an ongoing resource to distribute fresh developmental human genitourinary samples from various stages (6-42 weeks) to the GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAN) Atlas projects.’
  • “In the proposal, Pitt notes that is has been ‘collecting fetal tissue for over 10 years ... include[ing] liver, heart, gonads, legs, brain, genitourinary tissues including kidneys, ureters and bladders.’
  • “Pitt noted in 2015 that ‘we have disbursed over 300 fresh samples collected from 77 cases. The collections can be significantly ramped up as material could have been accrued from as many as 725 cases last year.’
  • “The Health Sciences Tissue Bank at Pitt is ‘embedded within the Department of Pathology ... thus providing rapid access to very high-quality tissue and biological specimens.’”
In addition, the documents indicate that school officials boast of having “a lab boasting a ‘ButcherBoy band saw for sectioning bone’ and a ‘frozen section has digital video feed to and from operating rooms. This allows for instantaneous discussions with the surgeons [as] immediate show and tell for them.”

Judicial Watch also pointed out that the school’s funding proposal to the federal government included a racial target for the human body parts to be harvested from what it called aborted “subjects.”

Under the target, school officials told HHS they planned on half of their subjects to be unborn aborted babies from minority mothers because the city of Pittsburgh is a diverse populace. Judicial Watch noted that U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that Pittsburgh is almost 70 percent Caucasian.

The funding proposal included among the documents also boasted of the school’s close relationship with laboratories at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“These documents show taxpayer money is being used to turn the University of Pittsburgh into a one-stop human fetal tissue shop—from procuring the tissue from elective abortions, ‘subdividing’ the human remains, to distributing and shipping the harvested tissue,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in the statement announcing receipt of the documents.

Release of the University of Pittsburgh documents comes only a few months after Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra ended regulations promulgated under former President Donald Trump that severely limited research using fetal tissue.

A University of Pittsburgh spokesperson said, “This grant-supported research is to find new therapies for diseases of the kidneys, bladder, and urinary systems, which are a leading cause of organ failure. By providing a central hub for researchers across the country, this program allowed scientists across the country to access tissue necessary to tackle this growing public health concern.

“Researchers have no part in any decisions as to the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy. All tissue was obtained in compliance with the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, as noted in the grant.”

As previously reported by The Epoch Times, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said in April that HHS would end both a ban on research funded by the NIH using fetal tissue procured from elective abortions and regulations requiring prior ethical review on such studies.

“NIH reminds the community of expectations to obtain informed consent from the donor for any NIH-funded research using human fetal tissue, and of continued obligations to conduct such research only in accord with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations,” the notice reads.

Becerra also “determined there are no new ethical issues that require special review,” NIH said in the statement.

HHS didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Pro-life groups are actively opposed to the use of fetal tissue obtained from aborted babies. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortion services, has been implicated in commercial sales of fetal tissue.

Fox News recently reported that three invoices unsealed in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against independent journalist David Daleiden, whose controversial undercover videos in 2015 sparked widespread calls for official investigations, showed that the abortion provider charged a total of nearly $25,000 for “products of procreation,” or POCs.
Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be contacted at: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @mtapscott and on Parler at @Mtapscott.
Update: This article was updated with comments from a University of Pittsburgh spokesperson and no immediate response from HHS as of 5:40 p.m. EDT on Aug. 4.
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning senior Congressional correspondent for The Epoch Times. He covers Congress, national politics, and policy. Mr. Tapscott previously worked for Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Montgomery Journal, and Daily Caller News Foundation.
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