Around ten years ago, Nichole Atkins obtained an abortion from Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Little did she know that the remains of her unborn baby would become the subject of a laboratory experiment at a nearby university.
After her abortion — which she now deeply regrets — Atkins filed suit against the leadership of Southwestern Women’s Options. The suit alleges that Dr. Curtis Boyd, a volunteer faculty member at the University of New Mexico, failed to inform Atkins of “how the unborn infant body parts were going to be used.”
Atkins’ situation is far from unique — both at Southwestern Women’s Options and across the United States.
Dozens of American universities have channels through which they obtain the bodies of aborted babies for medical experiments. Indeed, there exists a multimillion-dollar marketplace among America’s leading universities and America’s leading abortion providers — a marketplace largely subsidized by taxpayer dollars. In addition to finding customers within the faculty, abortion providers thrive upon their customers in the student body — namely, those who obtain abortions at clinics intentionally located near college campuses.
The abortion-academia industrial complex is a vibrant institution within the United States — one with with no signs of slowing down.
Baby parts trafficked by abortionists
Researchers and abortion providers have constructed a lucrative ecosystem around the purchase and sale of fetal remains — an operation founded upon delivery processes whose efficiency rivals that of America’s most innovative e-commerce firms.
Five years ago — after investigative journalist David Daleiden unveiled that abortion providers routinely buy and sell the remains of unborn children — the United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee commissioned a Select Investigative Panel to uncover the intricacies of the fetal tissue industry.
The panel’s 471-page report detailed four predominant tissue sourcing models — including the “University/Clinic Model,” in which a particular university forms “a close relationship with a nearby abortion clinic and regularly acquires tissue from that clinic for research purposes.”
Following their investigation, the panel identified numerous institutions — especially public universities supported by state and federal funding — that “formed a close relationship with one or more abortion clinics.” The report explained that these institutions “regularly acquire tissue from those clinics for research purposes and in some cases disseminate fetal tissue to other research institutions.”
After naming a specific body part and a preferable gestational age, clinics may even tell “the research institution when they have abortions scheduled that may produce the desired fetal body parts.” The abortion facility therefore “learns which human fetal organs and tissue are useful to the research institution and often alerts the research institution to their availability without prior solicitation.”
In one recent example of such a partnership between a university and a clinic, immunology researchers at the University of Pittsburgh obtained second-trimester aborted babies from nearby Magee Women’s Hospital for an experiment that involved grafting the babies’ scalps to mice and rats. The researchers called the final product “humanized rodents.”
In another recent study, UC San Francisco researchers recruited 249 women scheduled for second-trimester abortions to determine “racial/ethnic differences” in exposure to flame retardants. Medical professionals at San Francisco General Hospital Women’s Option Center sourced the unborn children.
In addition to the “University/Clinic Model,” the “Middleman Model” involves a procurer obtaining body parts “directly from a source such as an abortion clinic or hospital” and then transferring the tissue to a customer, “usually a university researcher.”
A company called StemExpress — which rocketed from $156,000 in revenue to $4.5 million between 2010 and 2014 — sold fetal tissue “on demand” through an online procurement application. StemExpress marketed to Planned Parenthood clinics and had advance knowledge of abortions scheduled at certain facilities. Advanced Bioscience Resources — a nonprofit corporate foundation — offered remains to researchers through employees “embedded” in abortion clinics.
The University of Minnesota told the congressional panel that “approximately 10 researchers” used tissue from StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources “currently or in the recent past.” Invoices showed charges “ranging from $275 to $2,675,” which reflected a “varying fee schedule for different types of fetal tissue.”
The panel also discovered that cutting corners in regulatory compliance is a recurrent practice within the tissue procurement industry.
Referring to Nichole Atkins’ case and others, the panel concluded that “the relationships that have formed between tissue procurement companies, abortion clinics, and universities are fraught with questionable practices, including the possible use of illegal, late-term abortion practices to procure fetal tissues and organs, violations of federal laws and regulations on patient consent, and systematic violations of patients’ HIPAA rights.”
Taxpayer dollars used to grease the gears
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s report is rife with instances of academics receiving federal grants for fetal tissue experimentation.
Indeed, the report shows that the National Institutes of Health awarded 329 grants for research involving the remains of unborn babies between 2010 and 2014. As more recent data from the agency reveal, federal dollars allocated to human fetal tissue projects ballooned from $40 million in 2008 to an estimated $107 million in 2021 — a 168% increase.
In 2019, President Trump enacted a measure stopping the use of fetal human tissue within the NIH. However, the ban did not affect research conducted by universities.
The Daily Wire also obtained a copy of White Coat Waste’s February 2021 analysis of the fetal tissue industry. The analysis — which dubbed universities “ground zero” for human fetal tissue research — found that 89% of NIH-funded research on unborn babies also incorporated animal testing.
Among several examples, the congressional report states that Colorado State University received $3.5 million from the NIH between 2010 and 2015 “to support projects using fetal tissue.” Likewise, UC San Francisco — the same institution that carried out the flame retardant experiment — received $17.5 million from the NIH for fetal tissue research initiatives. The flame retardant experiment in particular was funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The congressional panel quickly discovered that universities are zealous to retain their federal grants for human tissue research.
In the course of their investigation, the panel received “letters from 21 institutions that claim to provide evidence for the value of human fetal tissue research.” However, after evaluating the impact of fetal tissue research on vaccine development and the treatment of disease, the panel concluded that “not a single responding institution provided substantive evidence for the value of fetal tissue research.”
Students encouraged to embrace abortion
Beyond its direct involvement in the fetal tissue industry, Planned Parenthood — which carried out a record-breaking 354,871 abortion procedures in the past year — maintains close relationships with American universities and aggressively seeks to normalize abortion among college students.
Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon lists on its website that it “provides a variety of programs for college and university settings,” and “partnered with several departments, clubs, and student groups” in the region.
For example, Portland State University’s Generation Action club encourages students to “follow the reproductive justice framework, as allies, elevating marginalized voices on our campus.” Specifically, they “mobilize advocates for reproductive freedom, raise public awareness about reproductive health and rights, educate young people about sexual health, and create lasting cultural and social change in Portland.”
Ohio State University students likewise listed Planned Parenthood as a sponsor for a student-led event called “Sex Week.” Alongside speaker events such as “Kink 101,” “Decolonizing Porn,” and “OnlyFans: Behind the Scenes” was a seminar entitled “Abortions Explained Plainly: A Panel of Professionals.”
Planned Parenthood has also managed to establish links with several colleges that profess a Christian foundation. As Students for Life of America revealed in March 2021, at least two dozen universities associated with the Roman Catholic Church and a variety of Protestant denominations advertise Planned Parenthood’s internship programs, welcome the group to campus for speaker events, and refer students to their reproductive services.
Given current evidence, it seems that the abortion industry’s efforts have been fruitful. According to one poll, up to 80% of college students agree that abortion should be permissible under the law, while only 5% believe that it should be illegal in all cases.
Financial opportunity largely explains Planned Parenthood’s fascination with academia as a prime target for ideological conditioning.
An earlier Students for Life report indicated that among the 780 Planned Parenthood facilities active across the United States in January 2012, up to 79% resided within five miles of a university.
“It’s Planned Parenthood’s business model to increase the number of abortions they perform because that’s where they make money,” Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told The Daily Caller after the organization published its report. “The abortion giant sees college women as prime targets to increase their bottom line because women between the ages of 18-24 account for 43% of abortions done each year. They are the target market for the abortion industry.”
More recently, another report found that there is an abortion clinic within six miles of every public college in the state of California.
For Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, location is inextricably linked to profitability. As the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute admitted in a study, “the likelihood of having had a prior abortion decreased as the distance a patient lived from the facility increased.”
Response under the Biden administration
With the Democratic Party in control of the executive and legislative branches, pro-life members of Congress acknowledge that they face many obstacles in dismantling the abortion-academia industrial complex.
“Making money off of the loss of life is grotesque, inhumane, and unacceptable,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told The Daily Wire. “The Biden administration and congressional Democrats will challenge us at every turn, but I remain firm in my commitment to protect and stand in defense of the dignity of life from the moment of conception.”
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) affirmed to The Daily Wire that he is “sickened that Planned Parenthood and liberal academia have long taken advantage of aborted human life for their own selfish gain.”
“In addition to the obvious ethical problems with using fetal tissue in research, the science is clear — it is unnecessary and ineffective in producing treatments, vaccines, and cures for various illnesses,” he explained in agreement with Congress’s findings. “Although the fight will be an uphill battle under the current administration, I will continue to work to prohibit the use of aborted babies in research.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.