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HHS to Congress: No violations of fetal tissue laws
By Jennifer Haberkorn
The Obama administration says there are no known violations of the country’s fetal tissue laws among government researchers or the companies that supply the tissue.
“Currently, we know of no violation of these laws in connection with the research done at our agencies,” Jim Esquea, assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, wrote in a letter to Sens. Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt, obtained by POLITICO. “Furthermore … we have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements.
Very little federal research is done with fetal tissue, but it has come under scrutiny since an anti-abortion group earlier this summer began releasing undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood was trafficking in fetal tissue and organs. Planned Parenthood has denied that, saying it facilitates legal tissue donation at a few of its locations.
HHS has gotten re-affirmations from government researchers and government-funded researchers that their tissue procurement is done in accordance with the tissue laws. And it got assurances from the companies that provide that fetal tissue to researchers at NIH and FDA that they are obtaining the fetal tissue and organs in compliance with federal laws, the letter says.
HHS also said that research with fetal tissue conducted by NIH accounts for less than 0.1 percent of its total research budget. It didn’t provide whole numbers.
The letter was sent to Congress late Friday evening.
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