In 2008, scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital started using brains of aborted babies for research. The Boston Globe reports that Harvard neuroscientist, Emi Takahashi, examines fetal brain tissue in hopes to better understand neurological disorders such as epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia.
Although Takahashi is aware of the current controversy regarding fetal “tissue” research and Planned Parenthood, she says the issue is not about morality or abortion; instead, it’s about science. She explained, “It’s purely a scientific issue, not a moral one.”
In July, Takahashi received a call from an officer at the National Institutes of Health inquiring about her study of fetal brain development because she received a grant to study 30 fetal brains. Takahashi explained, “She was wondering how I would get that many samples. Congress was asking her what was going on with my research, and she wanted to make sure I wasn’t obtaining them illegally.”
The officer was concerned because eight undercover videos released by The Center for Medical Progress indicate that Planned Parenthood affiliates profit from aborted babies’ body parts, alter procedures to obtain salable organs and deliver babies “fully-intact” to procure “high-quality specimen.” All of these activities are illegal, and the videos raise serious questions about the organization’s intentions.
Currently, Takahashi scans fetal brains, examines computerized 3-D images of them and uses a computer program to reconstruct fiber pathways in the brain. The researcher claims she obtains the fetal tissue from the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Of course, Planned Parenthood alleges that none of their facilities in Massachusetts are involved in fetal tissue donation; however, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said something similar days before undercover videos showed that their affiliates were directly involved in organ harvesting.
Additionally, Takahashi told The Boston Globe that aborted babies have been more difficult to obtain because hospitals have implemented burdensome rules. Takahashi said she’s afraid the new scandal will cause their supply to decrease even further. She said, “Even now, we’re always short,” due to the controversy.
The director of the stem cell program at Children’s Hospital and founding president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Dr. Leonard Zon, said the controversy is damaging to the medical community. He said, “It’s a shame that we have politics dictating how research is done. There is tremendous value in studying every stage of development.” Zon also mentioned he believes it’s important that the public understands the benefits of fetal tissue research. “I felt like if people really understood what was going on, they wouldn’t be so upset by this,” he said.
As LifeNews previously reported, even though Planned Parenthood, abortion supports and some scientists argue that research on aborted babies is critical for the medical community, many believe that claim is untrue.
For example, Harvard researcher, Ole Isacson, MD, said they have been fairly unsuccessful in using it to find cures for diseases like Parkinson’s. He said, “It is very difficult to obtain dopamine nerve cells from fetal tissue. It would be far easier to grow the cells in a laboratory from stem cells. There have been no stem cell transplants as of yet for Parkinson’s patients.”
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The Federalist reports that even though fetal tissue research receives $76 million in taxpayer funding, scientists are moving on to other methods because they believe it will produce better results. The associate professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, Insoo Hyun, explained, “Despite the long history of using fetal tissue in medicine and research, the practice could be on the way out. Even though it has led to important medical advances in the last several decades, ‘in the future, the need for fetal tissue will go down because of advances in stem cell [technology] that will take over.”
One of the reasons Professor Hyun argues this position is because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes fetal tissue is no longer needed to create vaccines. They explain, “…Some vaccines such as rubella and varicella [were] made from human cell-line cultures, and some of these cell lines originated from aborted fetal tissue, obtained from legal abortions in the 1960s. No new fetal tissue is needed to produce cell lines to make these vaccines, now or in the future.”
ACTION: To complain contact Children’s Hospital here.