There are also criminal charges against the Center for Medical Progress investigators, as well as civil lawsuits. These allegations include claims that the videos were filmed illegally in violation of privacy laws.
Federal funding for fetal tissue is now under review. As part of the review process, senior officials at HHS held an off-the record, invitation-only listening session on Nov. 16 with leaders in medical research fields.
Participants included leaders with the American Society for Cell Biology, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the Society for Neuroscience and the International Society for Stem Cell Research.
The inquiry has prompted opposition from pro-abortion rights groups.
Mary Alice Carter, director of Equity Forward, which backs fetal tissue research and monitors pro-life groups, charged that HHS secretary Alex Azar "continually kowtows to anti-abortion groups while ignoring the scientific and medical communities," Science magazine reports.
The National Institutes of Health gave out about $103 million in 2018 for research involving fetal tissue.
In July 2018 the Food and Drug Administration gave a $15,900 contract to Advanced Bioscience Resources for "fresh human fetal tissue," which would be transplanted into mice in order to create human-like immune systems for research purposes. It is the eighth contract between the FDA and the company since 2012, and seven of the contracts appear to relate to the same or similar programs.
HHS cancelled the contract after receiving protests and criticism from several Members of Congress, who said they were alarmed that the tissue procurement contracts continued despite the "serious unresolved questions" uncovered by House and Senate investigations.
In 2010 a federal judge ruled that federally funded human embryonic stem cell research was against the law. That ruling resulted in a 19-day halt on related in-house National Institutes of Health projects, but NIH funds that had already been given to external researchers were not affected, the magazine Science reports.