Nearly $3 million in federal funding granted to University of Pittsburgh to become “tissue hub” for human fetal tissue

Nearly $3 million in federal funding granted to University of Pittsburgh to become “tissue hub” for human fetal tissue
Bridget Coila/Flickr/Creative Commons
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According to documents obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted nearly $3 million in federal funds to the University of Pittsburgh with the goal of becoming a “tissue hub” for the harvesting of tissue and organs of full-term aborted fetuses. It even included a racial target for obtaining the body parts of minority fetuses. 

On Tuesday, Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) announced that federal funds were spent on the University of Pittsburgh in its effort to become a “Tissue Hub” for the harvesting of tissue and organs of aborted fetuses, all the way up to full term. 

The organizations published the receipt of 252 pages of documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the NIH.

“The NIH grant application for just one of Pitt’s numerous experiments with aborted infants reads like an episode of American Horror Story,” said CMP project lead David Daleiden about the documents obtained via the FOIA request.

The university’s proposal claimed it had already been “collecting fetal tissue for over 10 years … includ[ing] liver, heart, gonads, legs, brain, genitourinary tissues including kidneys, ureters and bladders,” Judicial Watch reported. They added that the university said in 2015 it had already “disbursed over 300 fresh samples collected from 77 cases,” and envisioned its collections “can be significantly ramped up as material could have been accrued from as many as 725 cases last year.”

“Pitt’s statement suggests the time between the abortion and collection is minimal,” Judicial Watch explained, adding the university also included a “racial target for harvesting of human fetal parts.”

“Of its planned aborted ‘subjects’ Pitt desired 50% to be minority fetuses,” the legal watchdog group said. “The proposal suggests that the ‘subjects’ be diverse because Pittsburgh is diverse, the U.S. Census Bureau shows the city of Pittsburgh is close to 70% white.”

The Center for Medical Progress explains in its press release:

Furthermore, Pitt also states in the application that its GUDMAP fetal harvesting program will feature “Inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity” and sets quotas of 50% white patients and aborted fetuses, and 50% minority patients and fetuses, with a full 25% of the fetuses harvested to come from Black women (pgs. 74-76). Allegheny County, the major metropolitan area from which Pitt-based abortion practices draw patients, is 80% white and only 13% Black.

The report stated that the university currently has access to 6-24 week samples through the Health Sciences Tissue Bank, but has now partnered with the International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine to obtain samples for later gestational states (24-42 weeks) or 5.5 to 9.5 months of pregnancy. 

Among the major goals of the project, the report reads, is “to generate an inventory of genitourinary tissue throughout normal human development. The main goal of this aim is to develop a pipeline for the acquisition, quality control and distribution of human genitourinary samples obtained throughout development (6-42 weeks gestation).” 

The report read that “The Tissue Hub will collect specimens as per the needs of the GUDMAP investigators. The biospecimens will be both from surgical pathology specimens (products of conception) as well as autopsy material (still-births). In addition, additional specimens may be collected depending on investigator and programmatic needs and direction. The specimen types that can be accrued, and possible specimen accrual limitations, have been discussed with consortia members. Collection protocols will continue to be modified and fine-tuned to reflect the needs and the reality of human biospecimen collections; since diagnostic assessment is the primary purpose.” 

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “These documents show taxpayer money is being used to turn the University of Pittsburgh [into] a one-stop human fetal tissue shop – from procuring the tissue from elective abortions, ‘subdividing’ the human remains, to distributing and shipping the harvested tissue.”

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