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Federal government spent nearly $2 million on experiments sewing fetal scalps to rats

Research saw aborted fetal skin grow human hair after being attached to rodents.

Updated: May 20, 2021 - 11:38pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The federal government funneled nearly $2 million in taxpayer dollars to controversial research that sewed aborted fetal scalps onto the skin of mice and rats in order to conduct experiments in human skin infection.

That research, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, has generated considerable controversy due to its procurement of fully intact skin from aborted fetuses, as well as the graphic results of those experiments in which the fetal skin, having been attached to the rodents, subsequently grew human hair. 

Records show that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded that research to the tune of over $400,000. A full accounting of the project's funding stream, however, shows taxpayer contributions totaling almost five times that amount. 

A spokeswoman for the NIAID told Just the News this week that grants from both that agency and the National Institutes of Health's Fogarty International Center add up to over $1.9 million. 

"Total funding for the NIAID grant is $430,270," the spokeswoman said. "The FIC grant was awarded to the University of Pittsburgh … in FY15, and the last year of the project is FY19. Total funding for the FIC grant is 1,498,642."

The agency said that the NIH "is committed to ensuring that research involving human fetal tissue is conducted responsibly and meets the highest ethical standards." 

"NIH-funded research involving human fetal tissue must be conducted in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations," the statement continued, noting that "research involving the transplantation of human fetal tissue" requires "informed consent" from the abortive mother before the tissues can be obtained. 

The NIAID did not answer when asked whether or not it had funded any other experiments utilizing fetal remains. 

The usage of aborted fetal remains in science experiments has been a highly controversial topic in the U.S. for several years. Biomedical firms and drug companies regularly acquire aborted tissue for use in experiments and research and development. 

The issue was thrust to the forefront of the U.S. political debate several years ago when pro-life activist and journalist David Daleiden released several undercover videos purporting to show officials with Planned Parenthood — the nation's largest abortion provider — admitting to conducting commercial activity with aborted fetal remains, which would constitute a federal crime. 

The abortion provider announced shortly after those videos were released that it would end the in-house program that provided fetal remains to biomedical researchers in exchange for nominal reimbursements. 

The government-funded fetal rat experiments were meant to "provide a platform for studying human skin infections," according to the researchers. 

The skin-engrafted rats were meant to offer a template by which human skin could be infected without the ethical and safety concerns that would come with injecting skin diseases into living human beings.