In an effort to appease religious extremists, Trump ordered major new restrictions on federally funded research with fetal tissue.
Trump put an abrupt end to critical federally funded research into treating diseases like cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.
On Wednesday, the Health and Human Services Department announced an end to government scientists using federal funding for medical research using fetal tissue. The fetal tissue, which would otherwise be discarded if it weren't used in research, is obtained with the consent of women who have abortions.
While the announcement came from HHS, a White House spokesperson made clear that this "was the President's decision" and not that of other top officials.
According to the policy change, some research currently in progress can continue, but under stricter scrutiny by an increasingly anti-science administration. However, the administration did abruptly end a contract with a university that was using fetal tissue in research aimed at HIV therapies. The federal government was the sole funder of the research, according to the Washington Post.
The broader scientific and medical community is also speaking out to highlight the harm Trump's decision will cause.
"The ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life threatening and debilitating diseases." Lawrence Gostin, a professor focused on public health law at Georgetown University, told the New York Times. "It will affect everything from cures for cancer and HIV through to Parkinson's and dementia."
But Trump ignored the expertise of medical and scientific professionals, even dismissing the advice of his own HHS secretary, Alex Azar, who reportedly pushed for a less restrictive policy change.
Banning fetal tissue research has long been a goal of anti-abortion extremists, who championed deceptively edited propaganda videos of Planned Parenthood to rally conservatives against the idea of using fetal tissue for medical research.
The Trump administration's "anti-science & anti-choice agenda will stop critical biomedical research on vaccines & treatments for HIV, cancer, Parkinson’s & other illnesses," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said shortly after the news broke. "Their War on Women impacts all of us."
Now Trump is making it harder for doctors and researchers to cure diseases, just to appease the furthest fringe of his base.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.