Pennsylvania House Republicans inserted a provision into the state budget requiring the four state colleges to certify that they will not use fetal tissue from elective abortions for research or experiments.
Pitt, Temple, Penn State, and Lincoln will receive over $580 million in state funding for the next school year. This will be used to pay in-state student tuition subsidies, enabling the universities to give Pennsylvania residents discounts.
The University of Pittsburgh, which is set to receive $155 million in funding, is the target of the bill and long criticized for conducting fetal-tissue research.
Criticism of Pitt reached a boiling point, with House Republicans officially drawing a line in the sand this week to prevent Pitt from obtaining financing unless it stops researching fetal tissue. The move comes just as the Supreme Court eliminated abortion as a federal constitutional right under Roe v. Wade.
Rep. Jerry Knowles, a lawmaker from Schuylkill who sponsored the bill, stated that he introduced the amendment to halt the research. He is supported by the Pro-Life Federation, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute — one of the groups advocating the state withhold funding from Pitt if it continues to conduct fetal tissue research.
“My goal is not to stop the funding,” Knowles said. “I want to help Pitt get themselves out of a problem that they created.”
Impact on State Universities
The proposal has caused mounting concerns among Pitt officials who believe that such a measure could end tuition breaks for Pennsylvania students at the university and even rework how the state supports higher education.
Such an outcome “could result in every single [in-state] Pitt student seeing their state discount evaporating,” state Senator and Forest Hills Democrat Jay Costa said. “That’s what’s at stake here.”
Under the provisions of the legislation, a university finance officer must file a sworn declaration certifying that their institution complies with the law to be eligible for state funding.
The current plan takes an unorthodox approach, combining the four institutions rather than having separate votes on their funding. It is a component of a larger package of budget legislation that must be approved by Thursday, the last day of the government fiscal year, for it to take effect.