Judicial Watch said it filed the lawsuit because the HHS failed to respond to their initial FOIA requests to the NIH for "all communications concerning human fetal tissue," including but not limited to records, emails, texts, memoranda and handwritten notes, between the NIH's Office of Extramural Research and four other institutions – the University of Pittsburgh, its medical center, the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood.
"We have already established collusion between the University of Pittsburgh and the NIH over the fetal organ 'chop shop' of the University of Pittsburgh paid for with federal tax dollars," explained Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. "The [administration of President Joe Biden] turned the spigot back on for taxpayer funding of this barbarism, and we want the details."
Back in 2019, the administration of former President Donald Trump issued restrictions on the use of human fetal tissue from elective abortions in medical research. Under these regulations, any research proposal involving human fetal tissue would be subjected to review and approval by an ethics board.
In 2021, the Biden administration changed this policy and dissolved the ethics advisory board, allowing research on human fetal tissue to proceed without scrutiny.
By August of that year, Judicial Watch was able to obtain documents filed during an earlier lawsuit revealing that the University of Pittsburgh had received nearly $3 million in federal funding toward the creation of a "tissue hub and collection site" in the university for human fetal tissue "ranging from six to 42 weeks gestation."
Judicial Watch filed FOIA requests to the NIH to obtain more information, which led to the current lawsuit following the agency's refusal to comply with the request.
Judicial Watch has been working for years to uncover what kinds of research have been conducted using human fetal tissue, including before the rollback of the Trump-era policy. (Related: $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill contains "sinister" depopulation provisions: $575M to be spent on abortions in areas with high population growth.)
In 2020, the organization found that, between December 2016 and August 2018, the NIH paid "thousands of dollars" to Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR), a California-based biotechnology research company, for organs acquired from aborted human fetuses. The aborted material was used for the creation of "humanized mice" for research on HIV.
In September 2021, Judicial Watch announced that, thanks to a FOIA lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it received "communications and contracts" between the FDA and ABR for the latter to provide "fetal heads, organs and tissue" for humanized mice research.
After attempts by the FDA to hide certain information from its records, Judicial Watch was able to successfully lobby for the release of unredacted information. This includes the fact that the HHS had an agreement to purchase organs harvested from aborted human fetuses at a set "price per organ" that the government had to pay to ABR.
A court at the time even suggested that there was "reason to question" whether the transactions violated the at the time still valid executive ruling regarding the sale of fetal tissue.
Learn more about government support for abortions at Abortions.news.
Watch Gary Fianchi of Next News Network discuss the federal government's next moves to enable millions of additional abortions per year in the United States.