Trump Receives Medication Made Possible by Fetal Stem Cells; All Americans Deserve the Same Access

October 9, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus Providers and Clinics Task Force, reacted to news that President Trump is receiving treatments for his COVID-19 infection that have been made possible with the use of fetal stem cells. Recently, Schakowsky was joined by Congressman Mark Pocan and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin in leading a letter with 37 other House members and 4 Senators to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar demanding that the Administration withdraw its misguided and ideologically driven rule that bans the use of fetal tissue in medical research and stand behind proven science and scientific integrity.

The lawmakers wrote, “biomedical researchers use fetal tissue because it remains an irreplaceable resource for research aimed at improving our understanding of fetal and human development and identifying treatments for a vast array of conditions, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and other viral diseases like Zika and coronavirus. Vaccines for polio, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and rabies exist because of our nation’s longstanding and previously bipartisan support for research using fetal tissue.”

“On June 5, 2019, HHS imposed restrictions on biomedical research using fetal tissue that have had a chilling effect on innovative studies to address a multitude of diseases, including COVID-19. Agency documents released by [the House Energy & Commerce Committee] and [the House Oversight and Reform Committee] last week demonstrate that these restrictions were motivated by ideology and unsupported by science. While NIH experts continued to assert the scientific value of research using fetal tissue, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir and other political appointees instead worked in coordination with the White House—including the Executive Office of the President, the Domestic Policy Council, and the White House Counsel’s Office—to pursue a restrictive, dangerous policy to undermine and ultimately cease all federally funded intramural and extramural fetal tissue research projects and contracts,” they continued.

This week, the President has said his treatments were “miracles coming down from God.” One of the treatments he received was an experimental antibody treatment cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals using cells derived from abortion tissue.

“If it’s good enough for the President, it’s only fair our medical community should continue to have access to this proven groundbreaking technology,” added Congresswoman Schakowsky. “We have seen so many important treatments, therapeutics and cures made possible with the help of fetal stem cell research. Our medical researchers must continue to have the tools they need to innovate and treat Americans, regardless of political efforts to stop their progress.”

Schakowsky and Pocan also introduced H.R. 6417, the Protecting Cures Act of 2020, this past April. The legislation would reverse restrictions imposed by President Trump on biomedical research using fetal tissue. These restriction have had a chilling effect on the ability of experts to innovate during this global pandemic. This new legislation would also enact guardrails to protect biomedical research involving fetal tissue moving forward.

A full copy of the letter can be found HERE.