‘Scientific research’—or depraved barbarity?

Aborted babies’ scalps grafted onto ‘lab rats’


Few reports have shocked me like this one. In September 2020, it was reported that scientists from the University of Pittsburgh (US) had taken the scalps from 18–20 week aborted babies, grafted them onto the backs of live mice, and watched the human skin and hair grow.1 They also took some of the babies’ internal organs, and diced them small enough to inject into the rodents. Funded by US tax dollars via the National Institute for Health (NIH) the purpose of the ‘experiment’ was to investigate disease and immune responses in ‘humanised’2 mice and rats.

Published photos of aborted babies’ scalps grafted onto humanized mice at 12 weeks (credit: Agarwal, et al).3

Unethical research

The scientists published their findings in the prestigious online journal, Scientific Reports (nature.com). The researchers gathered information on how the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus infects human skin. This was achieved by studying mice immune responses to human—rodent skin grafts. In the researchers’ own words:

“Full-thickness human fetal skin was processed via removal of excess fat tissues attached to the subcutaneous layer of the skin, then engrafted over the rib cage, where the mouse skin was previously excised.”3
A 20 week-old human foetus, in reality a baby with fully developed nervous system that can feel pain.

To say that those with pro-life convictions (based upon the sanctity of human life) will find such a description extremely distasteful is a huge understatement. Sadly, there is more. Simultaneously, the mice were injected with the aborted babies’ lymphoid cells (derived from thymus and spleen) and hematopoietic stem cells (blood manufacturing cells) extracted from their livers. By doing this, the rodents (termed “models” for human biological study) were ‘humanized’ with organs and skin from the babies. Some of the rodents were then infected with Staphylococcus in the newly grafted human skin to study how the grafts and mouse internal organs responded.

It was observed that healthy skin grafts lasted up to 10 weeks. Multiple layers of new human skin cells developed ‘keratinocytes’ (outer-skin cells) and ‘fibroblasts’ (structural-cells). The human skin also grew new blood vessels and immune cells. Infected skin patches were also monitored for bacterial growth and damage. The hair from the babies’ scalps continued to grow in the original colours. The photos from the research paper show the darker human hair contrasted against the fine white hair on the backs of the mice.

Human dignity vs animal rights

The published research and associated imagery should shock us to the core. Each little scalp belonged to a baby who should have been loved, cherished, and nurtured. Instead, these little ones were sacrificed on the altar of convenience, merely as medical products, ostensibly to benefit others. As we have stated before, “CMI would still oppose embryonic stem cell research, because the end of possibly saving human lives does not justify killing others, in the same way that Dr Mengele’s medical experimentation on Jews during the Holocaust were inexcusable, and would be even if it had produced numerous medical breakthroughs.”

At the end of the Scientific Reports paper, an “ethical approval” section outlines the researchers’ strict adherence to official protocols for—rodent care:

“All animal studies/experimental protocols were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of Pittsburgh and were conducted following approved guidelines, which adheres to the NIH guidelines for housing and care of laboratory animals.”3

The question arises, was the same level of care offered to the unborn babies? Absolutely not. Their lives were snuffed out and exploited in abhorrent and macabre ways. After dismemberment at abortion clinics, they were administratively “de-identified” and referred to as “human fetal tissues”:

“De-identified human fetal tissues at the gestational age of 18 to 20 weeks were obtained from medically or elective indicated termination of pregnancy through Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Tissue Bank. Written informed consent of the maternal donors was obtained in all cases, under a protocol reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Pittsburgh; approved guidelines and federal/state regulations were adhered to for all procedures. The use of de-identified human fetal tissues to construct humanized rodents was reviewed and approved by the University of Pittsburgh IRB Office.”3

Here, institutionalised human ethical ‘approval’ is emphasised—but it is certainly not God’s approval. He cannot condone such barbaric destruction of human life—for any cause. As Creator, God alone has the sovereign right to give or take life.

Imago dei defines humanity

The next sentence in the so-called ‘ethical approval’ section lays bare the philosophical and moral bankruptcy behind the thinking that approves such monstrous practices:

“The use of de-identified human fetal tissues did not constitute human subjects research as defined under federal regulations…” (emphasis added).2

This is the horror exposed. Unborn children are not being legally recognized as possessing human rights. Nevertheless, why, in the same sentence are fetal tissues labelled as being “human”? Which is it? Only when God’s Word is rejected as being foundational to correct moral thinking, are such contradictory and ethically repugnant statements contemplated. Such depraved reasoning inevitably leads to morally abhorrent, shocking practices, as in 2014 it was reported that some UK hospitals were being heated using incinerated aborted babies.

Unborn babies are people. They are made in God’s image and likeness (Latin: Imago dei; Genesis 1:30) and bequeathed by their Creator with the gift of life, dignity, and worth. They are also vulnerable, and should therefore be afforded special protection in law.

This kind of tax-funded research used to be banned under a succession of US administrations. The tragedy is, under recent and present governments, such restrictions were overturned,4 in which case, we can expect more horrors to come. History demonstrates that, if such ‘research’ can be done, it will be done. Tragically, the moral compass necessary for people to govern righteously in society is broken.


Not until people return in their thinking to the standards of God’s Word will the rights of the unborn be protected. Babies in the womb are fully human, made in God’s Image. The research described above should shock the conscience of people in every nation which practices abortion, and permits the insidious medical research that exploits it. However, the sad reality is that consciences will not be stirred unless people face up to the consequences of breaking God’s moral law. Evolutionary thinking sees humans and rodents merely as distant cousins, therefore the unborn have no inherent dignity or worth. Only Genesis provides the moral framework for protecting humans created in His Image.

Published: 26 August 2021

References and notes

  1. News first reported in: Trasancos, S., How aborted children are used in medical research in 2020; ncregister.com/blog/how-aborted-children-are-used, December 15 2020. Return to text.
  2. Humanized mice carry functioning human genes, cells, tissues, and/or organs. They are commonly used as small animal models in biological and medical research for human therapeutics. Return to text.
  3. Agarwal, Y., et al., Development of humanized mouse and rat models with full‑thickness human skin and autologous immune cells, Scientific Reports, 10:14598; September 2020 | doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71548-z. Return to text.
  4. Servick, K., Biden administration scraps human fetal tissue research restrictions, Science, April 16, 2021 | doi:10.1126/science.abj0479. Return to text.

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