Washington, DC –Today, 33 House Democrats strongly urged Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to reconsider the Administration’s decision to eliminate the use of fetal tissue that can help further important life-saving scientific research. In a letter led by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), they asked Secretary Azar to explain how his department came to a decision that could have such a profoundly negative impact on scientists’ ability to find cures for many of the world’s deadly diseases.

“Our message is simple: fetal tissue and cells that would otherwise be discarded play a vital role in modern, cutting-edge medical research. The limitations on intramural research at the NIH outlined in your announcement will obstruct research that is necessary for the development of new treatments for serious and incurable diseases that impact millions of patients, including research into treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, eye disease, infant mortality and birth defects. The research terminated at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) was testing potential therapies to find a cure for HIV, ending a 30-year partnership between the NIH and UCSF,” they said in the letter.

They added, “Research using fetal tissue has saved millions of lives through the development of

vaccines for diseases that once ravaged communities across the world. Polio is now

almost eradicated, and rubella, measles, chickenpox, and rabies are all preventable

diseases because of fetal tissue research. Today, fetal tissue is still making an impact, with clinical trials underway using cells from fetal tissue to treat conditions including Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and spinal cord injury. Fetal tissue is also being used to understand and to develop potential treatments for major global health problems such as Zika virus and HIV/AIDS. The elimination of long-standing federal funding will delay this critical research and set back the development of potential therapies for these and other infectious diseases.”

Signees of the letter include the following Members:

Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Sean Casten (D-IL), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Bill Foster (D-IL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), Joe Neguse (D-CO),  Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA),  Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).

Click here for a copy of the letter.