The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) is the “research and education” arm of Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List. Its self-described mission is “to promote deeper public understanding of the value of human life, motherhood, and fatherhood, and to identify policies and practices that will protect life and serve both women’s health and family well-being.” This translates into pushing alarmist narratives about abortion, publishing annual reports applauding state-level abortion restrictions, spreading lies about research employing fetal tissue and advocating for deceptive anti-abortion centers. Its “experts” also do SBA List’s bidding by testifying before Congress and speaking on panels at other extremist anti-abortion organizations.
CLI’s influence in Washington and general treatment as an independent think tank are alarming given it is an outfit of SBA List — and despite being founded as the “anti-abortion counter” to the well-established Guttmacher Institute, it still relies on Guttmacher for data that health centers won’t give to CLI.
CLI’s president, Charles Donovan, is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ extremist who claimed gay marriage weakens civil society and opposed Obamacare, which provides comprehensive reproductive care.
Donovan claimed rape is never a reason a woman would need an abortion later in pregnancy.
“Consequently, not only were threats to the life of the mother or serious fetal anomaly not given as reasons — issues abortion rights activists have long claimed are the main reasons why late-term abortions are performed — but neither was rape. “The recent failure of the House of Representatives to act on the Pain-Capable legislation is doubly tragic because the law is hung up over an issue that is a) unjust and b) likely a null set,” Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told Breitbart News. “Neither of the two most comprehensive studies of the reasons women seek late-term abortions includes an act of rape as a rationale,” he continued. “In fact, the reasons women typically cite are similar in nature to the reasons women have abortions generally – economic circumstances, lack of support from the father, or future education concerns.” “None of these is trivial, but none is worth the taking of a human life either,” Donovan added. “If an unborn child conceived in rape happens to make it to the sixth month, being killed in an abortion will be as painful for him or her as for any other baby. And the risk to the mother’s health from the abortion will be greater than carrying the baby to term.” [Breitbart, 2/28/15]
Donovan said same-sex marriage would “undercut and accelerate the weakening of civil society and the freedoms it guarantees.”
“The importance of marriage as a pre-political institution that confers immense benefits by wedding mothers and fathers in the cooperative task of raising children is demonstrated with increasing force every passing year. The health of families is central to the health—and wealth—of nations. No institution of civil society accomplishes more than the family unit, enduring over time and building bonds across generations, to undergird civil society. At the same time, a vibrant civil society of core institutions—family, church, and voluntary associations—provides the surest bulwark against the relentless expansion of the state. If the last four decades teach us anything, it is that the growing separation of fathers, mothers, and children through out-of-wedlock childbearing and assaults on cultural norms invites massive state interventions in the name of alleviating poverty, crime, educational decline, and other ills. These interventions, in turn, frequently undercut and accelerate the weakening of civil society and the freedoms it guarantees. Marriage matters, therefore, because of its irreplaceable role in ‘nurturing children, providing them with mothers and fathers, and building and maintaining relationships’ among them. It ‘is a fundamental institution necessary for societal existence and well-being’ that only the most arrogant of activist courts would presume to redefine for all Americans.” [Daily Signal, 7/16/10]
Donovan claimed that Obamacare “fails to adequately protect the conscience rights of health care insurers, providers, and personnel.”
“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) contains several provisions that weaken longstanding federal policy denying public subsidies for elective abortion and health care plans that provide coverage of elective abortion. In addition, PPACA fails to adequately protect the conscience rights of health care insurers, providers, and personnel who decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” [Chuck Donovan, Heritage Foundation, 1/19/11]
CLI bills itself as a think tank, but lies about proven medical science.
CLI has quoted a scientist saying that fetal tissue research has made a “negligible contribution to science”…
“Abortion opponents argue that research using fetal tissue is not only morally wrong, but also unnecessary. The anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute quotes a scientist who claims that ‘fetal tissue from abortions is making a negligible contribution to science.’ Mainstream scientists disagree. Biochemist Thomas Baldwin, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, in a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees, wrote that ‘research using fetal tissue and embryonic stem cells advances scientific knowledge, improves human health, and saves lives.’ [Pacific Standard Magazine, 9/28/17]
… But fetal tissue research has made “major contributions” for vaccines and continues to be “necessary for medical advances” for the Zika virus and other conditions and diseases.
“Fetal tissue research has made major contributions to the understanding of biology and the development of new medical technologies, including vaccines that have saved millions of lives. Cells from human fetal tissue were used in the development of several therapeutics in current use, as well as the ongoing production of critical vaccines (Wadman, 2017)…. Below, we outline examples of how the use of fetal tissue has led to therapies that have saved lives as well as ways in which fetal tissue research continues to be necessary for medical advances. 1. Parkinson disease 2. Huntington disease 3. Blindness 4. Pregnancy 5. Zika Virus 6. HIV 7. Vaccines 8. Diabetes.” [International Society for Stem Cell Research, 2/17]
- The scientific community agrees that fetal tissue is unique in its effectiveness.
“There are no alternatives that can, today, serve all the same purposes as the controversial technology. ‘The consensus is that there are certain things about fetal tissue that make [it] unique,’ said Paul Knoepfler, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine. ‘Certain experiments can really only be done on actual fetal tissue.’” [STAT News, 12/17/18]
- It’s not as though scientists started researching alternatives yesterday and just need more time to find them — they’ve been trying to do so for decades.
“[Alternatives] are less politically controversial — in some states, it is illegal to do any research on fetal tissue, and using other kinds of tissue can make it easier for scientists to collaborate. Researchers have been working on developing tools that do not depend on fetal tissue for decades.” [STAT News, 12/17/18]
CLI published a paper falsely labeling the birth control ‘Plan B’ as a dangerous “abortifacient” and a “shrewd marketing scheme.”
“Plan B is not only a potential abortifacient, it is also part of a shrewd marketing scheme: Various studies demonstrate that after a single act of intercourse, without contraception, 7.2 to 8 percent of women may be expected to become pregnant. In contrast, pregnancy rates among women using “emergency contraception” (Yuzpe method, Plan B, Preven, etc.) are “reduced” to 1.9 percent. Note what this really says: Following a single act of unprotected intercourse, fewer than eight in 100 women will actually become pregnant. With Plan B, not more than two of these eight women will become pregnant — meaning the product is only about 75% ‘effective.’ By exploiting fears of pregnancy after non-contracepted sex (among, say, 100 women), the manufacturers of Plan B and similar drug kits can sell their product to 100 buyers, including 92 who don’t even ‘need’ it, and 94 who derive no benefit. Talk about a massive consumer over-sell. More importantly, however, how many girls and women will be harmed by taking high dosages of steroid hormones (1.50 mg levonorgestrel per tablet, Plan B One-Step), and with the potential for multiple exposures between menarche and menopause? Levonorgestrel is a totally synthetic progestogen. Once ingested, the potency of synthetic hormones may be much greater than their measurable concentrations suggest.” [Lozier Institute, 5/3/13]
Charles “Chuck” Donovan
Charles “Chuck” Donovan is the president of CLI. He is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ extremist with an extensive history working alongside right-wing organizations like the Family Research Council, which was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was formerly a research fellow at the extremist Heritage Foundation. He has falsely claimed that cutting Planned Parenthood funding “will benefit American women and their children”; he has also claimed on behalf of rape survivors that rape is rarely a reason why women seek abortions later in pregnancy. Donovan has said proponents of the Defense of Marriage Act were incorrectly labeled irrational bigots. The CLI president has also claimed that marriage equality would weaken civil society and the freedom it guarantees.
Vice President & Research Director
David Prentice is vice president and research director of CLI. Prentice is an anti-abortion biochemist who has used his work in the field to advocate against research using stem cells and fetal tissue. In 2018, after failing to adequately disclose his ties to CLI, he testified before Congress that “ample scientific alternatives [to fetal tissue research] exist” and that such research is no longer needed — claims which notable scientists have sharply denied, including a researcher whose work Prentice cited to prove his point.
Dr. Tara Sander Lee
Tara Sander Lee is an associate scholar at CLI. She is vehemently opposed to research using fetal tissue due to her anti-abortion and religious beliefs. She has written that “life begins at the moment of conception and that we are created by a sovereign god, so using human embryos or fetuses as objects and means of experimentation constitutes an assault against their dignity as human beings created by god.” In her 2018 congressional testimony on fetal tissue alternatives, she spread blatant misinformation. Sander Lee claimed “very little research being done” that relies on fetal tissue when in reality, NIH scientists have said that lifesaving research depends on it.
The Charlotte Lozier Institute is an extremist anti-abortion group run by SBA List, but poses as an independent research think tank.
The Atlantic: Charlotte Lozier “shares an office with Susan B. Anthony List,” but David Prentice doesn’t “think it compromises [his] objectivity.”
“…the Charlotte Lozier Institute [is] a relatively new D.C. think tank that seeks to bring ‘the power of science, medicine, and research to bear in life-related policymaking, media, and debates.” The organization, which employs a number of doctors and scholars on its staff, shares an office with Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent pro-life advocacy organization. ‘I don’t think it compromises my objectivity, or any of our associate scholars,” said David Prentice, the institute’s vice president and research director. Prentice spent years of his career as a professor at Indiana State University and at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group founded by James Dobson. ‘Any time there’s an association with an advocacy group, people are going to make assumptions,’ he said. ‘What we have to do is make our best effort to show that we’re trying to put the objective science out here.’ [The Atlantic, 1/18/18]
CLI is often treated as an independent think tank, when really the extremist group SBA List calls the shots.
“Though it is often treated as an impartial research organization by other anti-choice groups, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) is actually operated by the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. CLI was created by SBA List in 2011 and has remained part of the organization — filing its federal 990 tax forms as the “Susan B. Anthony List Education Fund” and running Facebook ads for SBA List during the 2018 midterm elections. CLI’s anti-abortion work involves putting ‘expert testimony before legislatures across the U.S. on the reality of pain in the unborn’ and helping anti-abortion fake health clinics with research to maximize their ‘outreach and effectiveness.’” [Media Matters, 12/14/19]
CLI has met with and provided information to Trump administration officials, including VP Mike Pence and Steven Valentine, chief of staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health.
Washington Post: Anti-abortion groups’ influence on the pro-life Trump administration crystallized with its targeting of fetal tissue research.
“Since HHS announced in late September a wide-ranging audit of the use of fetal tissue in federally funded research, groups that have long sought to outlaw its use say they are finally being heard. They view such research as morally repugnant and unnecessary because they contend other techniques can be used — an assertion many scientists reject. ‘This is a pro-life administration,’ said David Prentice, vice president and research director of the antiabortion Charlotte Lozier Institute, who said members of his group and the affiliated Susan B. Anthony List have met with Pence to press their case. ‘It’s just nice to have someone who will listen and not just close the door in your face.’” [Washington Post, 12/12/18]
- After ordering a National Institutes of Health (NIH) lab to pause its acquisition of fetal tissue, cancer researchers were left with weeks to figure out how to continue with their projects.
“HHS has “paused” the acquisition of fetal tissue at a National Institutes of Health lab doing HIV research in Montana and told an investigator with the University of California at San Francisco that it would not renew a $2 million deal for testing possible HIV treatments nationwide in research mice — before backing off and agreeing to a 90-day extension. NIH officials said a total of three research projects are affected by the pause. The two others disclosed for the first time are labs at the National Eye Institute and the National Cancer Institute. Cancer researchers will need more fetal tissue by the end of January, and the eye study will need more by the end of February, said a spokeswoman.” [Washington Post, 12/12/18]
Susan B. Anthony list staffers directly forwarded anti-abortion information to Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) Chief of Staff Steven Valentine from CLI President Chuck Donovan.
[EF FOIA Response, Steven Valentine Emails, Obtained 8/16/18, page 246]
[EF FOIA Response, Steven Valentine Emails, Obtained 8/16/18, page 260]
The House GOP invited Charlotte Lozier Institute’s Tara Sander Lee & David Prentice to testify before Congress on their opposition to fetal tissue research in 2018.
Media Matters: The House oversight hearing on fetal tissue research alternatives allowed two CLI researchers to “recycle anti-choice misinformation and right-wing lies.”
“The House oversight subcommittee on health care held a hearing on December 13 about “Alternatives to Fetal Tissue Research” that was largely driven by allegations from anti-abortion groups. The hearing not only recycled anti-choice misinformation and right-wing lies, but also failed to disclose the anti-choice ties of several key witnesses — a fact that was magnified on social media by various anti-abortion organizations promoting the hearing. During the December 13 hearing, two of the three witnesses represented CLI — but only one disclosed this anti-choice affiliation. While Tara Sander Lee was correctly identified as an associate scholar at CLI, her colleague David Prentice was not — despite serving as the vice president and research director of CLI since 2015. This fact was omitted from panel testimony, Republican member questioning, and even social media promotion of the panel by CLI and its allies. During the hearing, Prentice was instead introduced and referred to as an advisory board member at the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center.” [Media Matters, 12/14/18]
- SBA List issued a press release about the hearing claiming Tara Sander Lee and David Prentice as its own.
“SBA List’s press release about the panel also omits Prentice’s CLI affiliation, and regarding his advisory board member position it includes the disclaimer ‘Title is for identification purposes only.’ However, in an email to supporters about the hearing, SBA List wrote that the organization was ‘proud’ to have had ‘two exceptional scholars from our research arm, Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI)” speak.’” [Media Matters, 12/14/18]
Sander Lee’s began her testimony by lying about the necessity and impact of fetal tissue research…
Tara Sander Lee said that “we never needed fetal tissue.”…
“I stand before you today with a message of hope. We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements. Very little research is actually being done that currently relies on abortion-derived fetal tissues. NIH estimates it provided $103 million for research using human fetal tissue in 2018 of the total NIH budget of nearly $30 billion or 0.36% of the total NIH budget.1 This is relatively small compared to billions of dollars funding research that does not involved fetal tissue from abortions. Why? Because several alternatives exist that are abundant, successful, and not tainted by abortion. In addition, science speaks for itself. After over 100 years of research, no therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissue. History has shown us that we never needed fetal tissue.” [Tara Sander Lee Congressional Testimony, 12/13/18]
… She also said that we do not need fresh fetal tissues for humanized mice and that alternatives are readily available.
“The fact is, we do NOT need fresh fetal tissues for humanized mice, because ethical alternatives are available and being used now.” [Tara Sander Lee Congressional Testimony, 12/13/18]
…But National Institute of Health (NIH) scientists say there is usually no alternative to fetal tissue in much of its research on cancer, AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.
- For its projects utilizing fetal tissue, NIH researchers say there is ‘no substitute.’
“The N.I.H. spends about $100 million a year of its $37 billion budget on projects that involve fetal tissue. The tissue is used to test drugs, develop vaccines and study cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, blindness and other disorders. For much of that work, scientists say there is no substitute for fetal tissue.” [New York Times, 12/12/18]
- This is the case for all HIV research, which can only use humanized mice, and has already been stymied by HHS’ efforts to curtail the use of fetal tissue.
“Carrie Wolinetz, associate director for science policy at the N.I.H., said that because H.I.V. can infect only human immune cells, humanized mice are essential for studying the virus and testing drugs to combat it. Currently, only fetal tissue has all the components — cells from the thymus gland, bone marrow and liver — needed to create a human immune system in mice.” [New York Times, 12/12/18]
… And despite recognizing the science behind the merits of fetal tissue, Sander Lee advocates for its limited use.
Sander Lee highlighted miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies as “ethical alternatives” to fetal tissue.
“Post-mortem donations are a useful and ethical solution. Human cadavers are a valuable tissue source, from which stem cells can be isolated up to several days after death. Spontaneous miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies are also an ethical alternative source of fetal tissue, and possibly stem cells, for research.” [Tara Sander Lee Congressional Testimony, 12/13/18]
Despite recognizing the science behind the merits of fetal tissue, she advocates for its limited use.
“So what compels researchers to pursue fetal tissue? The cells from fetal tissue are considered valuable because they divide rapidly, adapt to new environments easily, are less susceptible to rejection than adult cells when transplanted, and consist of specific cell types important for specific areas of research (such as astrocytes in the study of Alzheimer’s). An investigator that desires to work with fetal tissue has the choice to either obtain fetal tissue from induced abortions that is readily available through procurement organizations such as StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources or from spontaneous abortions and ectopic pregnancies. The first choice is morally objectionable and wrought with ethical concerns, which my colleague, Dr. Feeney, will explain in the next testimony. The second choice to use tissue from miscarriages is an ethical solution. [Tara Sander Lee, Testimony to Minnesota State Legislature, 3/31/16]
During her testimony, Sander Lee said her position is motivated by a goal of achieving “more ethical science”…
Sander Lee’s testimony carefully avoided her religious motivation behind her fetal tissue stance — she encouraged investment in “more ethical science” as a matter of supposedly advancing medical progress.
“I urge Congress and the Trump administration to stop using federal dollars to support aborted fetal tissue research and redirect funding to these ethical alternatives. If we continue to invest in fetal tissue research, this will delay future progress and advances using better and more ethical science.” [Tara Sander Lee Congressional Testimony, 12/13/18]
… Although she has previously acknowledged that that her opposition to fetal tissue research is really driven by her religious beliefs.
Sander Lee on her opposition to fetal tissue research: “life begins at the moment of conception and…we are created by a sovereign god, so using human embryos or fetuses as objects and means of experimentation constitutes an assault against their dignity as human beings created by god.”
SANDER LEE: “We were impelled [sic] both as scientists and Christians—to be the voice of the preborn and to create awareness amongst the community and our colleagues as to why the use of abortion-derived tissue is unethical and not necessary. We firmly believe that we became scientists and physicians to serve humanity and to study the natural world in order to improve the human condition and we believe that compromising these ethical standards undermines our work and taints future discoveries. We also believe that life begins at the moment of conception and that we are created by a sovereign god, so using human embryos or fetuses as objects and means of experimentation constitutes an assault against their dignity as human beings created by god. They have a right to the same respect as every person regardless of developmental state.” [Liberty Counsel, 11/24/15]
During his testimony, David Prentice claimed that ample scientific alternatives to fetal tissue research exist and that there is no medical advantage to such research…
David Prentice on fetal tissue research: “ample scientific alternatives exist, and modern alternatives have overtaken any need for fresh fetal tissue.”
“Ample scientific alternatives exist, and modern alternatives have overtaken any need for fresh fetal tissue. Moreover, the practice of using fetal tissue from induced abortion raises significant ethical problems, not least of which is the nebulous interpretation of the term ‘valuable consideration’ or compensation for expenses in the harvest and processing of fetal organs and tissues. Taxpayer funding, which is what this discussion is really about, should go to successful, patient-focused alternatives.” [David Prentice Testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, 12/13/18]
… But even a scientist whose work Prentice has previously cited said that he was startled by Prentice’s assertion
Matthew Brown, a scientist whose research Prentice had used to assert that there are “multiple alternatives” to fetal tissue research, said that he was “startled” by Prentice’s assertions and that the claim “is not sound, scientifically, to say at this point.”
“‘This is older science, using fetal tissue,’ he said. ‘It’s a holdover from the way things have been done in the past, and there are multiple alternatives that are better science, more modern and can give us better answers.’ He has cited research by Matthew Brown, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who works on transplant immunology. In an interview, Brown said he was startled by such assertions, which he discovered when colleagues sent him a video of a Heritage Foundation forum where Prentice spoke. His paper, published earlier this year, reported on promising, but early, work about a model for implanting into mice discarded thymus tissue from newborn babies who had undergone surgery. ‘It’s a rigorous paper, but it’s way too early . . . It is not sound, scientifically, to say at this point,’ Brown said.” [Washington Post, 12/12/18]
… And an FDA spokesperson stated that HHS doesn’t even know if any adequate potential alternatives exist.
Despite a $20 million funding opportunity, HHS doesn’t even know if any potential alternatives exist.
“An HHS spokesperson said the review is ongoing. ‘HHS is continuing to review whether adequate alternatives exist to the use of human fetal tissue in HHS funded research and will ensure that efforts to develop such alternatives are funded and accelerated,’ spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said.” [Politico Pro, 12/10/18]
Prentice also claimed that there is no “scientific necessity” or “medical advantage” for the continued use of fetal tissue…
David Prentice: “There is no scientific necessity for continued use of fetal tissue, and it presents no advantage to medical research.”
“In conclusion, there is no scientific necessity for continued use of fetal tissue, and it presents no advantage to medical research. Taxpayer funds should be redirected to the numerous, modern, more productive scientific alternatives.” [David Prentice Testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, 12/13/18]
… But just two months earlier, an FDA spokesperson said fetal tissue has been used “where it is critical to understanding the safety of drugs and vaccines.”
“But an FDA spokesperson told POLITICO that fetal tissue ‘has been used in situations where it is critical to understanding the safety of drugs and vaccines and in which it couldn’t be feasibly achieved through another means. This work has led to a better understanding of a number of conditions and diseases that affect millions of Americans.’” [Politico, 9/28/18]
Prentice failed to disclose that CLI was his employer — as well as Sander Lee’s — prior to testifying before Congress…
The congressional witness list failed to acknowledge that Prentice is CLI’s VP and research director — meaning two of the three witnesses were from the same organization, an “irregular” move.
“An unusual wrinkle: Prentice is also the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s vice president and research director — an affiliation that is missing from the witness list and the institute’s own release about the hearing, as of PULSE press time. It’s irregular for two witnesses affiliated with the same advocacy organization to testify at the same hearing, as lawmakers usually try to demonstrate broad support for a policy. [POLITICO Pulse, 12/13/18]
…But during his testimony, Prentice referenced CLI as a chance to tout his “non-controversial stem cell research” work there.
David Prentice touted the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute’s website “StemCellResearchFacts.org” in his testimony.
“A 2015 review found that as of December 2012, over one million patients had been treated with adult stem cells. The review only addressed hematopoietic (blood-forming) adult stem cells, not other adult stem cell types, so this is a significant underestimate of the patients who have benefitted from adult stem cell therapies. A public face for such patients can be found at the educational website stemcellresearchfacts.org, where patients successfully treated with noncontroversial adult stem cells tell their stories in short video vignettes, backed by peer-reviewed publications.” [David Prentice Testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, 12/13/18]