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SACRAMENTO– California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in sending a letter to President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services calling on the Administration to end its research ban on fetal tissue to aid the nation’s medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Attorneys General argue that this exemption could help scientists develop vaccines and study the virus’ impacts on pregnant women and children.
“As we work together to combat the unprecedented threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing a vaccine and therapeutic treatments for the virus has to be a top priority,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In order to achieve this important goal, we need to make sure that scientists and medical professionals have access to the research and resources necessary to protect the population and safeguard the most vulnerable among us, including pregnant women and children.”
Scientists at the National Institute of Health who are working on potential therapies for COVID-19 have been appealing to the administration for permission to work on fetal tissue, arguing that the current ban hampers our nation’s ability to address COVID-19. Research using fetal tissue has led to the development of other vaccines such as those for polio, rubella, and measles.
According to the American Medical Association, “fetal tissue has also been used to study the mechanism of viral infections and to diagnose viral infections and inherited diseases, as well as to develop transplant therapies,” – work that is pertinent to the current COVID-19 health crisis. Recognizing the importance of these scientific contributions, in 1993 members of Congress on both sides of the aisle voted to legalize fetal tissue research. The attorneys general argue that the June 2019 ban impedes necessary research efforts during this unprecedented public health crisis, and urge the administration to lift the ban.
In sending the letter, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter is available here.