The federal government gave at least $2.7 million in taxpayer money to researchers who sought out minority babies who had been aborted in order to harvest their organs, according to internal documents released Tuesday.
The University of Pittsburgh targeted minorities in its request for infant organs—including those taken from full-term babies—to create a "pipeline" for fetal research. Researchers said they needed 50 percent of the donated fetuses to be minorities and specified that 25 percent must come from black women. The Pittsburgh metropolitan area is 85 percent white and 8 percent black. Researchers stressed the importance of maintaining organ blood flow in the request, which watchdogs say could violate federal law by asking doctors to illegally preserve organs during labor-inducing abortions.
The National Institutes of Health has overseen experiments on fetal organs at the University of Pittsburgh since 2015 in what the school claimed to be a "tissue hub." Aborted babies used in this research ranged from 6 to 42 weeks of gestation, according to government documents. The grant request from the university to the government agency redacts key information, including how many fetuses were obtained and who provided them. Its language, however, raised troubling questions.
David Daleiden, founder and president of the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, called on the federal government to investigate the NIH and Pitt after obtaining more than 300 pages of information related to the program through a public records request.
"The experiments with aborted infants at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by the NIH, are like Kermit Gosnell's house of horrors, but this time funded by the federal government," Daleiden told the Washington Free Beacon. "It was systemic bias and abortion extremism that permitted Gosnell to evade the law for so long, and the same thing is happening in Pittsburgh. These atrocities deserve the full response of law enforcement and government officials—law enforcement should put a stop to it and arrest the perpetrators."
The NIH did not respond to a request for comment.
The fetal research focused on harvested kidneys. The University of Pittsburgh said fetuses should have minimized "warm ischemic time"—a medical term to describe the time that an organ is without blood flow. It also lists "labor induction" as a utilized abortion procedure to obtain the organs.
"There’s the distinct possibility that some of these babies are born alive and then their organs and tissues are removed," Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, told the Free Beacon. "This is horrific—almost medieval. It is certainly antiquated science."
Federal law bans the purchasing of aborted fetuses, which must be donated for research. It is illegal to request how donated fetuses are to be aborted. A university spokesman said researchers played no role in the "timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy."
"In this case, ischemia time refers to the time after the tissue collection procedure and before cooling for storage and transport. It does not have an impact on how the procedure is performed, which is always at the discretion of the attending physician," the university said in an email.
The spokesman also said "projects funded by the National Institutes of Health must ensure appropriate inclusion of women and minorities" and that the study's racial distribution was appropriate. One of the study's goals, he said, was "to support researchers looking for treatments and cures for kidney disease," which disproportionately afflicts minorities.
Federal officials released the records 17 months after Daleiden's initial request—and only after the activist enlisted the help of attorneys with the government watchdog Judicial Watch. Meredith Di Liberto, the lead attorney on the case, said further information about the program is required to find definitive proof of illegal behavior, but the redactions leave many unanswered questions.
"We keep getting this pushback that ‘Oh, it’s not illegal'—but it’s all done behind closed doors with redactions," Di Liberto told the Free Beacon. "If this is all legit, why did we have to fight so hard to get a document, and when we get them, they’re redacted? Why did we have to go to court to see who’s paying for this?"
The University of Pittsburgh has been involved in fetal organ research for more than a decade. It conducted an experiment in 2020 that implanted the scalps of aborted fetuses onto lab mice in a study that was funded by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The grant proposal boasts of the institution's experience handling a variety of fetal organs, including the liver, heart, legs, brain, kidneys, and bladders. The university outlined its goal of becoming a "pipeline" for fetal organ research, which would mean not only conducting this research but providing organs for other institutions to experiment on.
"You see words like ‘we have a sample' and ‘subdivided,' and it's like, well, we’re talking about a human being," Di Liberto told the Free Beacon. "It’s a little Frankenstein-ish"
Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, said voters must hold their representatives accountable to ensure government funding goes nowhere near experiments on aborted fetuses.
"This latest discovery that millions of taxpayer dollars have apparently been funding this same barbaric practice through NIH is nothing short of outrageous and should profoundly trouble the conscience of every American," Schilling told the Free Beacon. "Congress should act to ensure that any future funding of NIH be explicitly barred from going toward such inhumane practices, and any lawmaker who opposes such action should be forced to answer for it to their voters."
The documents redacted the identity of the provider, but the university has longstanding partnerships with Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania as a "contracted care site" and shares some senior-level staffers. Dr. Beatrice Chen, for example, serves as both the medical director for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania and the director of family planning at the University of Pittsburgh. Local Planned Parenthood staffers admitted to providing aborted fetuses to the University of Pittsburgh in an undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress in 2019. Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania has denied that any of their three facilities participate in fetal organ donation programs.