Live Action, Politifact spar over claim university experiments on harvested aborted baby genitals

ultrasound, fetus, baby, pro-life
Woman holds ultrasound images |

The prominent pro-life activist organization Live Action and the fact-checking website Politifact have recently sparred over claims that the University of California, San Francisco has been engaging in unethical research on aborted babies.  

Live Action recently published a report and social media posts centered on research by the group Pro-Life San Francisco, which claimed that UCSF had been performing disturbing experiments on aborted fetuses and possibly allowing babies who survive an abortion to die.

Sasha Hupka of Politifact, a nonprofit operated by the Poynter Institute in Florida, wrote a critique published last week of the claims Live Action has leveled against UCSF based on the evidence gathered by Pro-Life San Francisco.

“The claims do not accurately represent how UCSF obtains and uses fetal tissue,” wrote Hupka. “UCSF does conduct biomedical research using fetal tissue and has done so for decades — but the claim that they obtain it from murdered babies greatly distorts the truth and is not correct.”

Hupka cited as evidence a statement she received from UCSF officials in which they said that only “tissue that has been donated may be used in research.”

“Many women who choose to terminate or experience the loss of a pregnancy specifically ask whether they can make these donations,” continued the UCSF statement.

“The [Live Action] article inaccurately implies throughout, through words such as ‘procure’ and ‘harvest,’ that these abortions are being performed in order to obtain tissue, which is false.”

While writing that the “emails Live Action cites are real and it is true that UCSF conducts biomedical research using human fetal tissue, including fetal tissue from the genitals,” Politifact rated the Live Action report “false.”

“However, the social media posts suggest that UCSF is purposefully killing children to obtain this tissue, which is wildly misleading and inaccurate,” added Hupka.

“UCSF’s biomedical research and acquisition of fetal tissue is legal and adheres to ethical guidelines. It is clear that Live Action’s posts take the university’s emails out of context and disregard the facts.”

Bettina di Fiore of Live Action posted a response to the Politifact piece on Tuesday, arguing that Hupka actually “proceeds to affirm the claims she sought to disprove” by acknowledging that the emails that Pro-Life San Francisco obtained were valid.

“The emails, which have since been published in their entirety by Pro-Life San Francisco (which is not ‘affiliated’ with Live Action, despite Hupka’s claim), clearly communicate the fact of organ and tissue harvesting — mostly genitals and gonads — from aborted children as it is transpiring at UCSF,” wrote di Fiore.

“Hupka does not dispute the veracity of these documents.”

 Live Action also critiqued the terminology concerns of Hupka, noting that the terms “procurement” and “harvest” are used in pro-choice circles to describe the process of acquiring aborted fetal tissue for research.

“Despite the claims made in Hupka’s ‘fact check,’ Live Action News never claimed or even implied that abortions were being performed for the purpose of obtaining tissue, nor that tissue was taken without consent,” added di Fiore.

Earlier this month, Pro-Life San Francisco obtained documents via the California Public Records Act on how UCSF is conducting research on aborted human fetuses.

Live Action reported on Pro-Life San Francisco’s findings, concluding that UCSF and its partner institutions were performing “callous abortion harvesting operations.”

“The atrocities at UCSF show that legalized abortion has led the corrupt abortion industry to look for yet another way to profit from preborn babies’ deaths – now through harvesting their body parts,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, in a statement.

“UCSF’s practices should be immediately stopped; if not, their taxpayer funding should be removed. What UCSF is doing is absolutely grotesque.”  

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