A federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release additional information about its purchases of organs harvested from aborted human fetuses, according to a statement issued by Judicial Watch on Monday.
Two agencies under the HHS, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both purchased organs from California-based Advanced Biosciences Resources (ABR) to use in HIV research. ABR partners with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to dismember fetuses and sell their parts for research.
Judicial Watch initially filed a lawsuit in March 2019 after HHS failed to respond to a September 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Judicial Watch requested all contracts, payment records, communications, and documents related to HHS purchasing human organs from aborted fetuses.
The FDA and NIH then provided hundreds of documents but redacted some information under the FOIA’s exception 4, claiming such information is confidential and commercial.
Federal Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in Judicial Watch’s favor in a court order (pdf) dated March 11, ordering the HHS to provide the information requested.
“This court victory will shed additional light on the federal government’s barbaric practice of purchasing organs of aborted human beings,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent on this grotesque and potentially illegal activity.”
Fetal tissue research has been a subject of great controversy, especially for research conducted on still-living aborted fetuses. Supporters of such research argue it’s necessary to develop future treatments for diseases. Others argue that regardless of any scientific benefit, the practice is unethical and a violation of human dignity.
Obtaining and transferring fetal tissue implicates a number of laws, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee report (pdf) released in December 2016. For example, the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 established 42 U.S.C. §289g-2, which prohibits fetal tissue sale for “valuable consideration.