Members of Congress call for investigation into UPitt fetal tissue harvesting allegations

89 members of Congress are calling for an investigation to determine whether the University of Pittsburgh's fetal tissue research violated federal law.

Two allegations presented by the lawmakers were that the university might have illegally changed abortion procedures just to obtain fetal tissue, and acquired tissue from 'aborted babies who were born alive.'

In a May 24 letter sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS OIG) Christi Grimm, 89 members of Congress call for an investigation to determine whether the University of Pittsburgh's (UPitt) fetal tissue research violated federal law.

Two allegations presented by the lawmakers were that the university might have illegally changed abortion procedures just to obtain fetal tissue, and acquired tissue from “aborted babies who were born alive and then killed by organ or tissue harvesting.”

Acting Director of Communications for HHS-OIG Yvonne Gamble told Campus Reform that they received Congress’ letter and are “reviewing it for appropriate action.”

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Questions about the research arose from the fact that UPitt says in its NIH application that its does “tailor collection processes [of warm fetal issue] on a case-by-case basis to maximize the needs of investigators”, and that it harvests tissue “for later gestational ages (25-42 weeks gestation).”

At 25 weeks fetuses are viable; at 42 weeks they are more than full-term.

The application also describes the developmental human samples as “fresh”, and that tissue collection includes “liver, heart, gonads, legs, brain, genitourinary, and placenta.”

Multiple doctors have expressed their belief that the language of the research implies that the babies are still alive during the organ harvesting process.

“If the babies are born alive after surviving an abortion, are the university and its recipients and subrecipients of HHS funding reducing ‘warm ischemia time’ by keeping the babies alive until their organs or tissues have been harvested to provide blood flow to the organ or tissue for as long as possible,” the congressional signatories ask.

[RELATED: ‘Public university creates abortion task force in wake of potential end to Roe v. Wade’]

The letter goes on to state that HHS gave an “unacceptable response that substantially failed to address either question” when these issues were raised by the lawmakers. 

The congressmen expressed their dissatisfaction with the National Institute of Health’s endorsement of a report released by a firm that was financed and hired by the university to investigate.

They ask for HHS to launch an objective investigation, rather than endorse a report released by a university investigating itself.

“We… await your unbiased evaluation of the serious concerns we have raised, which may either obviate or confirm the need for additional congressional oversight,” the letter states.

[RELATED: ‘Medical Students react to a push to require abortion training in medical curricula’]

As reported by Campus Reform in 2021, information regarding UPitt’s research was released in a 252 page report acquired by a Freedom of Information Act request that was granted only after Judicial Watch took legal action.

The report revealed that the federal government was providing almost $3 million worth of funding for UPitt’s human fetal tissue research ranging from 6 to 42 weeks gestation.

Campus Reform reached out to Congressman Chris Smith and the University of Pittsburgh for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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