November 8, 1999
I am writing to urge your support for House Resolution 350, sponsored by Reps. Thomas Tancredo, Joseph Pitts and Chris Smith, which asks Congress to investigate and conduct hearings on the trafficking in fetal organs and tissues by private companies.
This practice exploits vulnerable members of the human family contrary to their human dignity and presents possible violations of federal law.
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: Are abortion procedures being tailored to obtain the most useful tissue or parts, regardless of federal legal standards or the safety of the mother?
The 1993 National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act codified President Clinton's 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 Avaluable consideration," but money can be exchanged for fees involving transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage. Reportedly, some abortion clinics "donate" dead fetuses to those who harvest the parts; the harvester pays the clinic a "site" fee ("rent" for the space used for dissecting), and researchers pay "service fees" to those who obtain the fetal tissue for them. The law also states that in federally funded research projects, the abortion may not be altered in timing, method or procedures 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 insure retrieval of the fetal parts researchers desire.
Congress should investigate to determine whether, and to what extent, federal law is being violated. Your support of House Resolution 350 will begin this important step toward arriving at the truth.