Will GOP Congress Fund 'Humanized Mice' Made From Aborted-Baby Organs?

Terence P. Jeffrey | December 6, 2017 | 4:58am EST
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If you pay federal taxes, you have been funding the creation of "humanized mice" implanted with tissues taken from aborted babies.

Publicly available medical journals, written in the technical language of specialized researchers, describe experiments and projects the National Institutes of Health has funded over the years to create and use these mice.

On Sept. 24, 2007, for example, the National Institutes of Health sponsored "The New Humanized Rodent Model Workshop." The AIDS Research and Therapy journal published a summary of this workshop.

One federally funded scientist attending it described the "SCID-hu Thy/Liv mouse model." A chart in the summary indicated this mouse was constructed with "(h)uman fetal liver and thymus (20-24 g.w.)." In other words, it was "humanized" with organs taken from babies five to six months after conception.

Screen capture from chart in AIDS Research and Therapy's summary of NIH's "The New Humanized Rodent Model Workshop," showing that fetal livers and thymuses used in constructing the SCID-hu Thy/Liv model humanized mouse came from babies of 20 to 24 weeks gestational age.

"A single donor (one baby) provides sufficient tissue to implant 50-60 mice," said the summary.

Seven years later, NIH employees described how they created a more advanced "humanized mouse." They called this one the "TKO-BLT."

"Triple Knock Out (TKO) mice that are bone marrow, liver, thymus (BLT)-humanized become highly reconstituted with human immune cells and tissues," said an article published by the NIH employees in May 2014 in the Journal of Immunological Methods.

In creating this mouse, the NIH used organs from babies in a slightly younger age range than those whose organs were used for the SCID-hu Thy/Liv model described at the 2007 NIH workshop.

"Seventeen to 22 week gestational tissues...were prepared in a biological safety hood by cutting the tissues into 1-2mm³ pieces and placing them in a covered petri dish on ice in matrigel," said the Journal of Immunological Methods article.

"The tissues were divided to give the surgeons approximately the same amount of liver tissue as thymus," it said.

"Tissue was transplanted under a single kidney for each animal," it said.

At the end of last year, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives published its report looking into the harvesting of fetal tissues at abortion clinics. The report discussed the "humanized mouse."

"In the most extreme example of this research model," said the report, "human fetal progenitors from blood, liver, and thymus are used to create a 'BLT' mouse that reconstitutes many aspects of the immature human immune system."

Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, the ranking member of the committee, sent letters to various institutions asking them questions about the "benefits" of fetal tissue research.

Harvard University responded with a background paper that, among other things, explained why fetal tissue research used tissue from aborted babies rather than from miscarriages.

"If human fetal tissue is needed, why can it not be obtained from miscarriages instead of abortion?" the Harvard backgrounder asked.

"Here," it said, "timing is very important.


"Almost all miscarriages happen at home or in locations in which fetal material is not recovered and, importantly, preserved in a usable state," the Harvard backgrounder said. "Just as obtaining tissue during a scheduled surgery or an in-hospital autopsy soon after death provides tissue that is untainted by decay relative to obtaining those same tissues from the morgue or a funeral home, obtaining fetal material from elective pregnancy termination is far superior to obtaining whatever material might be recoverable following spontaneous miscarriage, even assuming a mechanism existed for the collection of such material."

According to an online chart published by NIH that estimates its spending by "various research, condition, and disease categories," the agency spent $67 million on human fetal tissue research in fiscal 2013; $76 million in fiscal 2014; $80 million in fiscal 2015; $103 million in fiscal 2016; and $107 million in fiscal 2017. (The chart does not indicate how much went to research involving the humanized mouse as opposed to other types of research using fetal tissue.)

The fundamental issue is plain: By spending tax dollars on research that requires tissue taken from aborted babies, the federal government is creating a demand for tissue from aborted babies.

The best policy would be to prohibit the killing of unborn babies — a solution that would require at least one more Supreme Court justice who does not believe killing an unborn child is a constitutional right.

The initial omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2018 that the House passed in September — but that never got a vote in the Senate — included the next best policy. It said: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to conduct or support research using human fetal tissue if such tissue is obtained pursuant to an induced abortion."

The question now: In the ultimate appropriations bill it passes for fiscal 2018, will the Republican Congress fund research that creates a demand for tissue from aborted babies? Or will they end it?

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of


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