Report reveals Trump's COVID treatment may have derived from an abortion

Report reveals Trump's COVID treatment may have derived from an abortion
Photo via the White House.

President Donald Trump and others in his administration have expressed their opposition to the use of fetal tissue in medical research. But Antonio Regalado, in an article published by MIT Technology Review this week, argues that one of the treatments Trump received after being infected with COVID-19 was tested using a cell line that came from fetal tissues.

Regalado explains: "This week, President Donald Trump extolled the cutting-edge coronavirus treatments he received as 'miracles coming down from God.' If that's true, then God employs cell lines derived from human fetal tissue. The emergency antibody that Trump received last week was developed with the use of a cell line originally derived from abortion tissue, according to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed the experimental drug."

Regalado notes that Trump's administration "has taken an increasingly firm line against medical research using fetal tissue from abortions," pointing out that in 2019, it "moved…. to curtail the ability of the National Institutes of Health to fund such research." Abortion opponents applauded that decision, including Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

Dannenfelser, in an official statement, said, "This is a major pro-life victory, and we thank President Trump for taking decisive action. It is outrageous and disgusting that we have been complicit, through our taxpayer dollars, in the experimentation using baby body parts."

However, Regalado argues that when Trump "faced a deadly encounter with COVID-19, his administration raised no objections over the fact that the new drugs also relied on fetal cells, and anti-abortion campaigners were silent too. Most likely, their hypocrisy was unwitting. Many types of medical and vaccine research employ supplies of cells originally acquired from abortion tissue. It would have taken an expert to realize that was the case with Trump's treatment."

Trump, Regalado observes, "received an emergency cocktail of anti-coronavirus antibodies made by Regeneron…. According to Regeneron, laboratory tests used to assess the potency of its antibodies employed a standardized supply of cells called HEK 293T, whose origin was kidney tissue from an abortion in the Netherlands in the 1970s."

Journalist Ramesh Ponnuru responded to Regalado's MIT piece in an article for the conservative National Review, quoting Regalado and saying that there is "some dispute" about the origin of 293T.

Ponnuru, a senior editor at the National Review, writes, "Professor Frank Graham, who established the cell line, recently wrote that the cells may have had their origin in a spontaneous miscarriage. If, however, the conventional account of their origin is the correct one, the question becomes whether someone who recognizes abortion to be a grave injustice may licitly use a medical treatment that was developed in a way that involved that injustice."

Ponnuru, citing articles in Public Discourse — one by Christopher O. Tollefsen and one by the Rev. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco — writes that under "certain conditions…... the treatment does not encourage additional abortions and occurs for a virtuous reason, such as, in this case, saving multiple lives. There need not be any hypocrisy."

Alexandria Bowie, a Regeneron spokesperson, told MIT Technology Review, "It's how you want to parse it, but the 293T cell lines available today are not considered fetal tissue — and we did not otherwise use fetal tissue."

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