House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Senate Health Committee ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) want answers from the Trump Administration about its decisions to ban the use of federal funds involving fetal tissue, according to a letter addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
As part of their inquiry, the members of Congress are requesting internal documents and communications relating to the fetal tissue ban.
Both Rep. Cummings and Sen. Murray believe that the ban is not a function of scientific reasoning, but instead is driven by ideology and could have consequences in biomedical research.
“The Department’s decision appears to be driven by outside forces that have pressured the Administration to take extreme ideological positions that are unsupported by science,” they wrote.
Several anti-abortion groups have been pressuring the Department of Health and Human Services to cancel more than $100 million in federal funding for research projects that use fetal tissues from elective abortions.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have funded much of the fetal tissue research in the U.S., spending nearly $103 million in research during the 2018 fiscal year, according to lawmakers.
Scientists have highlighted that fetal tissue has been central to many biomedical breakthroughs, including the development of the first polio and measles vaccines. They have also noted that the use of fetal tissue is highly regulated both ethically and legally.