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Trump administration cuts funding for fetal tissue research

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Washington (AFP)

US President Donald Trump's administration said Wednesday it was discontinuing a multi-million-dollar research contract with a university involving the use of fetal tissue to test new HIV treatments.

The use of embryonic tissue is supported by many scientists who argue it is essential for cutting-edge research, but it is sharply criticized by anti-abortion activists.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it was ending a contract with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) for research involving tissue from elective abortions.

"Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump's administration," the department said in a statement.

It said it had been keeping the UCSF contract alive through 90-day extensions since beginning a review into all fetal tissue research in September last year.

"The current extension expires on June 5, 2019, and there will be no further extensions," the department said.

The statement added that there would be no new research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involving fetal tissue, but federally funded research at external institutes would continue for their approved period.

Any new grant proposals at external bodies like universities would be subject to an ethics advisory board before they could receive new government funds.

Last September, the HHS terminated a contact between Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. and the Food and Drug Administration that provided human fetal tissue from elective abortions to develop testing protocols.

The decision comes as several conservative-leaning US states have adopted extremely restrictive laws on abortion in the hope that the Supreme Court will opt to revisit a 1973 ruling establishing abortion rights nationwide.

The president has declared himself ?strongly Pro-Life? as he seeks to rally his base ahead of his re-election bid in 2020.

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