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Pro-lifers ask Magee Hospital to address whether it complies with Pennsylvania law in its fetal tissue collection practices

by | Nov 17, 2023

Editor’s note. The following remarks were delivered before the Magee-Womens Hospital Board.

Good afternoon. My name is Christopher Pushaw. I am the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. We thank the Board for allowing the Federation time to speak with respect to how Magee-Womens Hospital provides fetal tissue specimens to the University of Pittsburgh for its conduct of related experimental research. [1]

This concern arose from a 2020 FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request, which revealed that in a grant application made to NIH, the University noted [2] that it “record[s] the warm ischemic time on our samples and take steps to keep it at a minimum to ensure the highest quality biological specimens.”

One of the best procedures to preserve this “warm ischemic time” is through “labor induction” abortion, [3] which can occur during the third trimesterThis procedure is considered desirable in order to obtain “high quality” samples, since other procedures can mutilate the tissue and render it unusable.

Specimens obtained through “labor induction” abortion raise the concern that at least some of them come from fetuses that survive an abortion and/or are delivered beyond the 24-week cutoff contained in the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act. 

Section 3212 of the Act provides that any child that survives an abortion shall not be denied care or treatment. Section 3216(a) prohibits “nontherapeutic experimentation…upon any child born alive during the course of the abortion.” [4]

Induction abortion methods used for fetal collection purposes call into question whether the abortion doctor takes steps immediately to preserve the lives of delivered fetuses that show signs of life and/or whether a fetus that survives the abortion then loses its life by virtue of having its organs removed for research purposes.

To our knowledge Magee has not publicly shared how it gathers these fetal specimens, whether such collection involves labor induction abortion, or whether such procedures comply with state law. 

For its part, the University hired a law firm at the end of 2021 to address concerns arising from its fetal experimentation practices in general. However, the firm’s findings only heightened concern regarding Magee’s role in providing fetal specimens.  A closing recommendation called for “enhanced oversight” by the University of its tissue collection protocol… “to ensure compliance with applicable laws and policies.” [5]

However, the report suggests that such oversight would not extend to how Magee obtains its fetal tissue specimens. The report [6] states: “…, we did not review the clinical decision-making or delivery of medical care, such as abortion, by individuals serving in their capacity as University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) employees. “

Moreover, the report states that formal review by the University’s Institutional Review Board over the “method by which the researcher will obtain human fetal tissue” can qualify for an exemption” provided such tissue is “de-identified.” [7] The report does not explain how the “de-identification process” works.

If the IRB did not investigate how the fetal tissue was collected based on this exemption, it still begs the questions that would have been central to the investigation before it and the law firm–namely, what abortion procedures were used in the process of collecting these fetal specimens, whether some fetuses survived these abortions, and whether continuing the procedure at that point induced fetal demise. 

We would respectfully request that Magee Hospital address the issue of whether it in fact complies with Pennsylvania law in its fetal tissue collection practices. The Federation raises these questions on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens who deserve an answer and thank the Board for addressing them.

References:

Citations:

[1] – https://www.foxnews.com/us/pittsburgh-investigation-fetal-tissue-probe-cone-silence

[2] – https://www.judicialwatch.org/hhs-documents-organ-harvesting

[3] – https://thefederalist.com/2021/08/09/investigate-now-federal-grants-sponsored-possibly-live-baby-harvesting-at-university-of-pittsburgh/

[4] – https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=18&div=0&chpt=32

[5] – FN Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C., Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research at the University of Pittsburgh (December 21, 2021), at 26. Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research (00877347-2)[4].PDF (pitt.edu)

[6] – FN Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C., Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research at the University of Pittsburgh (December 21, 2021), at 5. Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research (00877347-2)[4].PDF (pitt.edu)

[7] – FN Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C., Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research at the University of Pittsburgh (December 21, 2021), at 2. Regulatory Assessment of Human Fetal Tissue Research (00877347-2)[4].PDF (pitt.edu)

Additional Reading:

Emails Suggest NIH, Pitt Colluded To Cover Up Experiments On Babies (thefederalist.com)

Categories: Pro-Lifers