Trump Ethics Panel Urges Rejection of Fetal Tissue Research

WASHINGTON — A new federal ethics advisory board created to evaluate scientific research involving fetal tissue has advised the Trump administration to reject funding for nearly every proposal it considered — a de facto government ban on the work.

In a report issued on Tuesday, the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, established in February by the Department of Health and Human Services, recommended against funding 13 of 14 research proposals. Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II will make the final decision, but the panel’s opinion is expected to hold great weight.

The report, and the establishment of the 15-member panel, revived a decades-old political and scientific battle — fueled largely by social conservatives who now account for a significant part of President Trump’s political base — over whether taxpayers should fund research involving human fetal tissue. The fight is tangled up with the debate over abortion rights, though some of the tissue involved comes from fetuses that were not intentionally aborted.

Proponents of the research denounced the board and its review as tainted.

“The evaluation process for research should be insulated from ideology and special interests,” the International Society for Stem Cell Research said in a statement