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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Sues for NIH Communications on Fetal Organ Harvesting

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for records of communications of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Extramural Research about the use of human fetal organs (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:22-cv-03051)).

The lawsuit was filed after HHS failed respond to a July 15, 2022, FOIA request by Judicial Watch to the National Institutes for Health (a component of HHS) for:

All communications concerning human fetal tissue between the Office of Extramural Research and any of the following entities: (1) University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), (2) University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, (3) the National Abortion Federation and (4) any Planned Parenthood entity.

On April 16, 2021, NIH sent out a notice informing the extramural research community (researchers outside NIH from across the United States and in some foreign countries who have been awarded grants through the NIH grant program) that HHS was reversing the Trump administration’s limits on fetal tissue research, stating: “all research applications for NIH grants and contracts proposing the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions will be reviewed by an Ethics Advisory Board.” Accordingly, the notice said, “HHS/NIH will not convene another NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.”

 “We have already established collusion between the University of Pittsburgh and the NIH over the fetal organ ‘chop shop’ in the University of Pittsburgh paid for with federal tax dollars,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Biden administration turned the spigot back on for taxpayer funding of this barbarism, and we want the details.” 

In February 2020, NIH records showed that the agency paid thousands of dollars to a California-based firm to purchase organs from aborted human fetuses to create “humanized mice” for HIV research.

In June 2020, FDA records showed that between 2012 and 2018 the FDA entered into eight contracts worth $96,370 with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) to acquire “fresh and never frozen” tissue from 1st and 2nd trimester aborted fetuses for use in creating “humanized mice” for ongoing research. 

In April 2021, FDA records detailed the agency spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to buy human fetal tissue from California-based Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). The tissue was used in creating “humanized mice” to test “biologic drug products,” and wanted “fresh; shipped on wet ice” fetal organs. 

In August 2021, Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress through a separate FOIA lawsuit uncovered HHS documents that revealed nearly $3 million in federal funds were spent on the University of Pittsburgh’s quest to become a “Tissue Hub” for human fetal tissue ranging from 6 to 42 weeks gestation.

In September 2021, Judicial Watch uncovered records and communications from the FDA involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). Most of the records are communications and related attachments between Perrin Larton, a procurement manager for ABR, and research veterinary medical officer Dr. Kristina Howard of the FDA.

In April 2022, Judicial Watch uncovered records revealing that the Associate Senior Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning in the Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Jeremy Berg, contacted then-Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, requesting help to combat, “efforts to undermine important science using fetal tissue.” Additionally, the records included a scientific report containing information about grafting human scalp and other tissues onto mice.

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