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Fetal Tissue Policy Changes Expected

The Biden Administration is to make changes to federal restrictions on fetal tissue research, the Washington Post reports. It adds that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told lawmakers Thursday that National Institutes of Health officials would be making an announcement about the policy, though without describing what the shift was.

In 2019, the Trump Administration curbed fetal tissue research in the US by ending such intramural research at NIH and by not renewing a contract with the University of California, San Francisco, a move that ended a 30-year partnership using fetal tissue for HIV research. While the new policy did not ban NIH from funding extramural fetal tissue research, it did add an extra layer of ethical review for such grant applications. ScienceInsider reported in August 2020 that the review board — which included members publicly opposed to abortion and fetal tissue research — rejected 13 of the 14 applications it had reviewed.

As the Post writes, Becerra opposes these policies and while attorney general of California was part of a group of attorneys general that called on then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar to reject ethics board's recommendations.

"We believe that we have to do the research it takes to make sure that we are incorporating innovation and getting all of those types of treatments and therapies out there to the American people," Becerra said this week during a congressional budget hearing, according to the Post.