For Immediate Release

September 29, 2016

House Panel Veers Toward Obstructing Medical Research

Feminist Majority Foundation condemns House Panel’s obstruction of medical research that could help fight Zika and other life-threatening illnesses.


SEPTEMBER 29, 2016—Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) today released a statement sounding the alarm on the effect that the House Select Investigative Panel is having on fetal tissue research, threatening critical medical advances that could help fight Zika and other diseases.


“Instead of investigating the potentially criminal activity of anti-abortion extremists who are threatening women’s clinics, this Panel has drifted into threatening fetal tissue research that can be used to better understand and stop serious diseases and medical conditions. This Panel has not only politicized reproductive health, but they are now politicizing medical research,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal.


“The majority on the House Panel has been on an irresponsible witch hunt from day one and it’s time for it to fold its tent and stop its ideological bullying of medical researchers and abortion providers,” continued Smeal.


In letters addressed to Rep. Jan Schakowsky released this week, the University of California Los Angeles cited “recent national events” and “publicity” around acquiring fetal tissue as the cause of delays in research, and Rockefeller University cited “external pressure” leading to the closure of one of a handful of fetal tissue providers. Both institutions explained their tissue research and how it was critical to fighting the spread of human diseases.


According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) the nation’s leading professional organization of OB/GYNs, fetal tissue research is a key tool in developing a vaccine or medicine that could prevent serious birth defects and even deaths related to Zika. In a statement supporting fetal tissue research, Mark S. DeFrancesco, President of ACOG, has noted that, “unfortunately, some state and federal politicians are working hard to obstruct — or even criminalize — fetal tissue research, limiting the ability of scientists and researchers to develop new vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat disease.”


Fetal tissue research is helping scientists better understand Zika and other public health threats. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed information on to how Zika infects fetuses and offered clues on how to detect it earlier. The research relied in part on fetal tissue.


Led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the Panel has targeted fetal tissue providers, abortion providers, and medical researchers as part of an investigation that originated with the now-discredited Center for Medical Progress (CMP) sham videos targeting Planned Parenthood. FMF, among others, continues to call for the disbandment of this panel.




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