October 20, 2023

University of Pittsburgh Board Confronted Over Research Using Body Parts Harvested from Aborted Babies

Piotrus / Wikimedia Commons
On October 9, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Magee-Womens Hospital Board of Directors held its first public board meeting in four years. The board closed its meetings for public attendance one month after it published controversial research in which scalp tissue harvested from aborted children was grafted onto mice and rats.

Notably, the research received funding from the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.

The board was cited for violating state code in March. Pennsylvania code requires the board to hold annual public meetings, and the University of Pittsburgh violated that code by choosing to only meet behind closed doors.

Retired Superior Court Judge Cheryl Allen is one of many pro-lifers who rebuked her alma mater at the meeting. She said she was “extremely disturbed” by the research. She also criticized the hospital's consent form for fetal tissue donation. She argued that the wording “entices women who are at their most vulnerable.” She compared the research to research philosophy to that of Nazi scientists, who justified unethical medical experiments on Jewish prisoners by believing they would benefit the rest of society.

Rob Rutenbar, the university's senior vice chancellor for research, revealed during the meeting that the university received a subpoena from the HHS Office of Inspector General for fetal tissue research documentation. HHS Inspector General Christi Grimm has not yet released the results of her office's investigation, but she promised to follow up after receiving a letter from concerned members of Congress last May.