JUDICIAL WATCH: New FDA Records Show Obama Administration Purchased Organs, Heads and Tissue From Full Term Aborted Babies

WASHINGTON — Judicial Watch announced today that it received 198 pages of records and communications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). Most of the records are communications and related attachments between Perrin Larton, a procurement manager for ABR, and research veterinary medical officer Dr. Kristina Howard of the FDA.

Judicial Watch received the records through a March 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which the FDA is a part (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department Health and Human Services (No. 1:19-cv-00876)). The lawsuit asks for all contracts and related documentation on disbursement of funds, procedural documents and communications between FDA and ABR for the provision of human fetal tissue to be used in humanized mice research. After successfully opposing the FDA’s redaction of certain information from its records, a federal court ordered HHS to release additional information about its purchases of organs harvested from aborted human fetuses – including “line item prices,” or the price per organ the government paid to ABR. The court also found “there is reason to question” whether the transactions violate federal law barring the sale of fetal organs. Documents previously uncovered in this lawsuit show that the federal government demanded the purchased fetal organs be “fresh and never frozen.”)

The records include an FDA generated contract with ABR, based on a “requisition” it issued on July 27, 2012, for $12,000 worth of “tissue procurement for humanized mice,” indicates the requisition was for a “non-competitive award.” Although the initial award was for $12,000, the total estimated amount of funds allocated for the requisition was $60,000. Under “Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition,” the FDA writes:

Scientists within the FDA and in the larger field of humanized mouse research have searched extensively over the past several years and ABR is the only company in the U.S. capable of supplying tissues suitable for HM research. No other company or organization is capable of fulfilling the need.

Costs are estimated [for the fetal parts] at $230 per tissue x two tissues per shipment = $460 plus $95 shipping = $555 per shipment. A total of 21 shipments = $11,655.00.

An April 1, 2013, “Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract” form that shows the FDA purchased fetal livers and thymuses from ABR going back to at least October 2012, billing $580 per liver/thymus set, but later paying a unit price of $685.

A January 1, 2013, “Fees for Services Schedule” provided by ABR to the FDA includes:

FETAL CADAVEROUS PROCUREMENT                                                            SERVICE FEE

2nd trimester D&E [Dilation and Evacuation abortion] (13-24 weeks)       per specimen     $275

1st trimester aspiration [abortion] (8-12 weeks)                                        per specimen     $515

Intact Calvarium [baby’s skull] (8-24 weeks)”                                        per specimen     $515

The fees for services schedule also includes “Special Processing/Preservation” of the fetal parts, such as “Tissue ‘Cleaning,’” “Snap freezing” and “Passive freezing (Dry ice).”

In a September 9, 2014, “Order for Supplies or Services,” the FDA writes regarding a $9,900 order:

The Contractors shall ship 2nd Trimester thymus $325, 2nd Trimester liver $325. Overnight deliver $150 and EFT wire transfer fee $25, for a total per delivery of $825. Total of this contract not to exceed $9,900.00.

As the result of an August 21, 2015, “Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract,” ABR bumped up the price of baby livers and thymuses from $325 each to $340 each.

A “Tissue Acquisition Quote” sent by ABR to Howard on July 5, 2017, provided a quote of $5,440 each to provide 16 sets of second trimester (16-24 weeks) livers and 16 sets of second trimester (16-24 weeks) thymuses at $340 per “sample.” The request for the quote notes that “tissue known to be positive for HIV, HepA, HepB, HepC or chromosomal abnormalities are not acceptable.”

On June 28, 2017, a redacted FDA contract specialist sends Larton at ABR a request for a quote (RFQ) of pricing for human fetal tissue, aged “16-24 weeks,” including a “Statement of Needs”:

The HM [humanized mice] are created by surgical implantations of human tissue into mice that have multiple genetic mutations that block the development of the mouse immune system at a very early stage. The absence of the mouse immune system allows the human tissues to grow and develop into functional human tissues…. In order for the humanization to proceed correctly we need to obtain fetal tissue with a specific set of specialized characteristics.

A May 2018, report from a company named “LABS,” which was employed by ABR to test fetal parts and their mothers for hepatitis and HIV, notes in its “methodology description” that they are approved by the FDA “for living and cadaveric donor screening.”

The records include a recitation of requirements by the FDA for “Payment by Electronic Funds Transfer,” in which ABR must adhere to regulations relating to “Convict Labor” and “Child Labor-Cooperation with Authorities and Remedies.”

On September 24, 2018, the Trump FDA terminated its contract with ABR for human tissue purchases and began an audit of its acquisitions of baby body parts. The records include the FDA’s letter terminating the contract:

Based on the terms and conditions of the Purchase Order as awarded to Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (“ABR”) on July 27, 2018, the Government is not sufficiently assured that the human tissue provided to the Government to humanize the immune systems of mice will comply with the prohibitions set forth under 42 U.S.C. § 289g- 2. Furthermore, the Government has concerns with the sufficiency of the sole-source justification. Therefore, pursuant to FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] clause 52.213-4(f), the Purchase Order is being terminated effective September 24, 2018.

“Chopping up aborted human beings for their organs and tissue is a moral and legal outrage,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This issue should be front and center in any debate about America’s barbaric abortion industry.”

In February 2020, Judicial Watch first uncovered through this lawsuit hundreds of pages of records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing that the agency paid thousands of dollars to a California-based firm to purchase organs from aborted human fetuses to create “humanized mice” for HIV research.

In May 2021, this lawsuit uncovered FDA records showing the agency spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to buy human fetal tissue from ABR. The tissue was used in creating “humanized mice” to test “biologic drug products.” The records indicated the FDA wanted tissue purchases “Fresh; shipped on wet ice.”

On August 3, 2021, Judicial Watch announced that it and The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), through a separate lawsuit, received 252 pages of new documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reveal nearly $3 million in federal funds were spent on the University of Pittsburgh’s quest to become a “Tissue Hub” for human fetal tissue ranging from 6 to 42 weeks’ gestation. The Pitt scientists note that, “All fetal tissue is collected through a collaborative process including Family Planning, Obstetrics and Pathology.” Pitt anticipated “being able to harvest and distribute quality tissue and cells … [and] do not anticipate any major problems related to the acquisition and distribution of the tissues.” Pitt’s target goal “is to have available a minimum of 5 cases (tissues and if possible other biologicals) per week of gestational age for ages 6-42 weeks.”

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WIN FOR LIFE: Planned Parenthood backs out of federal funding program after pressure from Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Planned Parenthood said Monday it’s pulling out of the federal family planning program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.

Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, said the organization’s nationwide network of health centers would remain open and strive to make up for the loss of federal money. But she predicted that many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood services would “delay or go without” care.

“We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” said McGill Johnson. “Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them.”

Responding with its own statement, the federal Department of Health and Human Services said that Planned Parenthood affiliates knew months ago about the new restrictions and suggested that the group could have chosen at that point to exit the program.

“Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions — having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it — and they are abandoning their obligations to serve patients under the program,” the department said.

Planned Parenthood was not the only organization dropping out. Maine Family Planning, which is unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, also released its letter of withdrawal Monday. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, an umbrella group for family planning clinics is suing to overturn the regulations.

About 4 million women are served nationwide under the Title X program, which distributes $260 million in grants to clinics. Planned Parenthood says it has served about 40% of patients.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco is weighing a lawsuit to overturn the rules, but so far the court has allowed the administration to go ahead with enforcement. Oral arguments are scheduled the week of Sept. 23. Several states and the American Medical Association have joined the suit as plaintiffs. Activists are also pressing Congress to overturn the rule.

Monday was the deadline set by the government for program participants to submit statements that they intended to comply with the new rules, along with a plan. Enforcement will start Sept. 18.

Along with the ban on abortion referrals by clinics, the rule’s requirements include financial separation from facilities that provide abortion, designating abortion counseling as optional instead of standard practice, and limiting which staff members can discuss abortion with patients. Clinics would have until next March to separate their office space and examination rooms from the physical facilities of providers that offer abortions.

The family planning rule is part of a series of efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health to please conservatives who are a key part of President Donald Trump’s political base. Religious conservatives see the program as providing an indirect subsidy to Planned Parenthood, which runs family planning clinics and is also a major abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood has called the ban on abortion referrals a “gag rule,” while the administration insists that’s not the case.

Maine Family Planning CEO George Hill said in a letter to HHS that his organization is withdrawing “more in sorrow than in anger” after 47 years of participating in the program.

He said the Trump administration regulation “would fundamentally compromise the relationship our patients have with us as trusted providers of this most personal and private health care. It is simply wrong to deny patients accurate information about and access to abortion care.”

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Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD SMACKDOWN: SCOTUS rules in favor of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in battle over First Amendment

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers affirming that a California law passed in 2015, which requires the centers to inform clients about free or low-cost abortion services, violates the centers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court invalidated the California law, putting in peril similar laws on the books in Hawaii and Illinois.

The Golden State law, which targeted centers that provide abortion alternative counseling, mandated that such centers prominently post information on how to obtain abortion and contraception.

Centers that failed to comply with the law were fined $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, under California law.

Pro-life groups fiercely challenged the regulations, arguing that they violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The court concurred. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected that argument.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion, referring to the regulations as “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Thomas was joined in his findings by fellow conservative justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan each dissented.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke out after the high court’s decision was announced, calling the ruling “unfortunate.”

“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women — regardless of their economic background or zip code — deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions,” Becerra said in a statement.

“Today’s Court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their healthcare options will continue.”

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THE FIGHT FOR LIFE: SCOTUS rejects Planned Parenthood bid to block Arkansas restrictions on abortion

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block an Arkansas law which bars pill-induced abortions, effectively denying an appeal by two Planned Parenthood clinics who argued the state would be left with only one abortion provider.

The rejection frees up the 2015 measure to shortly take full effect, though the clinics may file argument over the matter again at a lower court level.

The ruling came in a one-line order, without dissent, suggesting the court’s more liberal justices intentionally decided to hold back at any objections.

Planned Parenthood further argued unsuccessfully against current law, which mandates that clinics that perform medication abortions have a contractual relationship with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Attorneys arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood claimed no obstetrician in the state will agree to the required contract.

The Planned Parenthood clinics in question, located in Little Rock and Fayetteville, currently offer only medication-induced abortions, which can be performed until the ninth week of pregnancy. The state’s only other clinic, also located in Little Rock, performs surgical abortions as well and advocates for the law argued that the clinic could continue to offer that service, regardless of the outcome.

The ruling is a blow to abortion rights advocates, who abortion-rights advocates, who won a similar Supreme Court fight in 2016 over a Texas law that threatened to shut down operations in three-quarter of the state’s clinics.

Despite arguments from attorneys representing Planned Parenthood that the Arkansas case “presents virtually identical factual and legal issues” as the Texas case, the court ultimately ruled in favor of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge who urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, saying that “there is no right to choose medication abortion.”

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FIGHTING FOR THE UNBORN: Trump to revive Reagan era policy that denies federal funding to clinics that promote abortion

Washington, D.C. (AP) — The Trump administration will resurrect a Reagan-era rule that would ban federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with women, or sharing space with abortion providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services will announce its proposal Friday, a senior White House official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to confirm the plans before the announcement.

The policy has been derided as a “gag rule” by abortion rights supporters and medical groups, and it is likely to trigger lawsuits that could keep it from taking effect. However, it’s guaranteed to galvanize activists on both sides of the abortion debate ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

The Reagan-era rule never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled that it was an appropriate use of executive power. The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule went into effect that required “nondirective” counseling to include a range of options for women.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure. Doctors’ groups and abortion rights supporters say a ban on counseling women trespasses on the doctor-patient relationship. They point out that federal family planning funds cannot be currently used to pay for abortion procedures.

Abortion opponents say a taxpayer-funded family planning program should have no connection whatsoever to abortion.

“The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity,” said Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents family planning clinics. “I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged.”

She said requiring family planning clinics to be physically separate from facilities in which abortion is provided would disrupt services for women across the country.

But Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America said, “Abortion is not health care or birth control and many women want natural health care choices, rather than hormone-induced changes.”

Abortion opponents allege the federal family planning program in effect cross-subsidizes abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood, whose clinics are also major recipients of grants for family planning and basic preventive care. Hawkins’ group is circulating a petition to urge lawmakers in Congress to support the Trump administration’s proposal.

Known as Title X, the nation’s family-planning program serves about 4 million women a year through clinics, at a cost to taxpayers of about $260 million.

Planned Parenthood clinics also qualify for Title X grants, but they must keep the family-planning money separate from funds used to pay for abortions. The Republican-led Congress has unsuccessfully tried to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and the Trump administration has vowed to religious and social conservatives that it would keep up the effort.

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Associated Press writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.

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