WASHINGTON (November 9, 1999) -- An official of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) hailed today's decision by the House of Representatives to investigate and conduct hearings concerning private companies that traffic in fetal organs.
"This practice exploits vulnerable members of the human family contrary to their human dignity and presents possible violations of federal law," said Gail Quinn, Executive Director of the NCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
By voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved a resolution calling on Congress to "exercise oversight responsibility to conduct hearings concerning private companies that are involved in the trafficking of baby body parts." House Resolution 350 was sponsored by Reps. Thomas Tancredo, Joseph Pitts and Chris Smith.
Earlier, in a letter to members of the House urging adoption of the resolution, Ms. Quinn wrote: "The urgency of such a resolution is obvious in light of recent disturbing reports, presenting credible evidence that private companies are working directly with the abortion industry in the trafficking and sale of fetal body parts, often harvested moments after an abortion to obtain 'fresh' tissue for researchers."
"This raises a serious question," Ms. Quinn continued. "Are abortion procedures being tailored to obtain the most useful tissue or parts, regardless of federal legal standards or the safety of the mother,?" she asked.
The 1993 NIH Revitalization Act codified an executive order permitting federal funding of transplantation research using fetal tissue from induced abortions. Under this law, and the National Organ Transplant Act, human fetal tissue or organs cannot be sold for "valuable consideration." The law also states that in federally funded research projects, the abortion may not be altered in timing, method or procedure for the retrieval of fetal tissue, and consent for use of the tissue can only be obtained after consent has already been given for the abortion.
"There are reports suggesting that some private companies are circumventing these provisions and becoming directly involved in the sale of fetal organs and tissues, and even that abortions may be timed and altered to assure retrieval of the fetal parts researchers desire," Ms. Quinn said.