June 5, 2019
The policy change barring government scientists from using fetal tissue from elective abortions in their research has no immediate direct impact on studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. However, banning research on fetal tissue will not stop abortions and today’s policy change will more broadly impede medical progress. Ongoing studies at UW–Madison and elsewhere, involvingfetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded, are aimed at understanding and treating conditions ranging from blindness and the impact of Zika virus on pregnant women to serious developmental disorders and diabetes. There are few or no alternatives to fetal tissue for research on a range of serious medical conditions. Research involving fetal tissue at UW–Madison already undergoes rigorous ethical review and if alternative materials are available, they are used.UW–Madison will continue to monitor the effects of this policy change, including the potential impacts of review panels evaluating grant renewals.