Fetal Tissue Research: Catholic Doctors Must Stand Up for Life

Bioethics   |   Mark Armstrong   |   Nov 3, 2010   |   7:38PM   |   Washington, DC

The culture we live in is under assault.  Nowhere are the battles more clearly drawn than in the world of medicine.

And unless Catholics step into the cultural breech, the practice of medicine might radically change in the next few years, using our most vulnerable humans to save the rest of us.

While medical providers are on the frontlines of the cultural battlefield, we are all responsible for what will happen unless we speak out and get laws on the books to prevent the destruction of human life.

Hundreds of Catholic physicians from all over the U.S. and Canada were in Seattle last week for the 79th annual Catholic Medical Association conference.  The opening session talk, delivered by Dr. Josef Seifert, was entitled “Christian Anthropology, Connecting a Proper Anthropology with Proper Medical Practice.”

Dr. Seifert is the he author of more than 40 books and 300 articles and a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Life. He told the physicians, “the practice of medicine cannot be isolated from the truth….in every truth there is something more than we expected.  And that without God, man does not know which way to go.”

He challenged physicians to stand up for the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.  “Physicians should be concerned about protecting life.  Physicians are not just service machines for their patients.  They need to respect and give glory to God and recognize that man is not the ‘Lord of Life’ and physicians can not be involved in providing abortion, euthanasia or contraception services to their patients.  All these things are against life.”

Unfortunately our society is lining up against medical providers who want to practice the kind of medicine prescribed by Dr. Seifert.  In one of the afternoon sessions, Dr. Theresa Deisher, who is the director of research for Ave Maria Biotechnology, said the vast majority of drugs, vaccines and designer-genes are produced using voluntarily aborted babies during their research and development.  Over 20 vaccines parents give to the children contain the DNA cell lines from electively aborted babies, with no pro-life alternatives even available in the United States.

Even more horrific, Dr. Deisher said scores of companies license a cell line known as “PerC6” which was derived from an electively aborted baby at 18 weeks and “was pre-chosen and specifically isolated to be modified for vaccine, biologic and gene production.”

The demand for fetal tissues to use for research on biologics and cosmetics is huge.  Deisher reported that “In 2009 here in Seattle the University of Washington fulfilled 4,400 requests for fetal tissue and cell lines derived from voluntarily aborted babies.  By the way that fetal tissue is more valuable the later the abortion is procured.  Doctors may tell patients to delay their abortions because that tiny liver cell is more valuable for researchers at 22 weeks than at 10 weeks.”

Those 4,400 requests for fetal tissue represent just one medical school: the University of Washington in Seattle.  There are over 400 medical schools in the United States that have similar research facilities, which, according to Deisher, could mean nearly two million requests for fetal tissue and cell lines from aborted babies each year to be used for medical research.

While Catholic researchers who work in these facilities who devalue human life are certainly culpable in their actions, in a certain sense, we all are blameworthy from physicians to patients alike.  “What happens to our souls when we as Catholics, as the Body of Christ, knowingly or unknowingly use materials from electively aborted babies?”

If you answer, “I will never do that,” think again.  If you have been vaccinated in the last 20 years, there is a 90 percent chance you have residual DNA in your body from an electively aborted baby in your body.   And this injustice continues despite a plea from the Pontifical Academy of Life over five years ago.

In a letter from Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life to Mrs. Debra Vinnedge, executive director, Children of God for Life in July, 2005. Bishop Sgreccia says that Catholics have “a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems.

The lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active material cooperation , morally justified as an “extrema ratio” due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children — especially pregnant women. Such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.”

That was five years ago.  And according to Dr. Deisher we are no closer to eliminating that “unjust alternative choice” than we were then.

LifeNews.com Note: Mark Armstrong is the co-author of Amazing Grace for Fathers along with his wife, Patti Armstrong, Jeff Cavins and Matt Pinto.