In an op-ed in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, six doctors explain why using fetal “tissue” for research is unethical and unnecessary for scientists. As LifeNews previously reported, last month the Dean of the University of Wisconsin’s health school defended the school’s decision to buy aborted baby body parts for research and said banning their negotiations would negatively impact the work of medical researchers.
The University of Wisconsin is one of a handful of institutions that has been caught purchasing the body parts of aborted babies for research in the wake of revelations about Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting business. In fact, nearly 700 faculty members from the Wisconsin school have signed a letter arguing that a bill to ban the sale of fetal body parts in the state would cut off “hope for patients” and deter biomedical students and the biotechnology industry from coming to their University because it shows “that Wisconsin is no place to do business.”
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However, the doctors in the op-ed argue the exact opposite. They write, “The argument that fetal-derived tissues must be used in research to develop medical treatments is false. Many therapies have been developed using cell lines not of fetal origin, including insulin for diabetes (produced in bacteria), Herceptin for breast cancer and tissue plasminogen activator for heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism (both developed in Chinese hamster ovary cells).”
They continued, “Other successes include five new FDA-approved drugs (as of 2011) developed using the (chemical) glutamine synthetase system and more than 70 successful treatments developed using adult stem cell sources. Even though the often-cited polio vaccine was developed using fetal tissue cells, the developers of the vaccine later testified that initial studies were also successful using cells that were not of fetal origin. Therefore, it is misleading to suggest that important medical advances would not have been possible without using cells of fetal origin.”
Additionally, the Wisconsin doctors address the claim that students in the biotechnology industry will be steered away from the University of Wisconsin if they halt research on aborted babies. They explained, “To the claim that restricting the use of abortion-derived fetal tissue will cause research to come to a halt and an exodus of research talent from the state, we answer that we have experienced the opposite. Students and researchers have left science altogether after failing to find research laboratories that did not use abortion-derived or human embryonic tissues.”
Ultimately, regardless of whether fetal tissue research is beneficial, the end doesn’t justify the means, and it is quite unbelievable that the University of Wisconsin is opposing legislation that would ban the sale of aborted babies in their state. Since the pro-life doctors explain this best, read the rest of their letter in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel below.
Finally, repeated assurances that proper ethical guidelines are in place to avoid the connection between abortion and subsequent research are entirely inadequate. By purchasing these “products,” scientists are creating a market that drives the abortion-biotechnology industry complex. Moreover, the timing of fetal tissue collection, as well as the procedures used to terminate the pregnancy, are critical to obtaining research-quality tissue. So, effectively, no separation exists between the use of fetal tissue by the researcher and the act of abortion. This also raises important concerns about whether the health of the mother is appropriately prioritized.
Ultimately, what matters most is that we cannot support the exploitation of one group of human beings (the preborn) for the benefit of another group. We became scientists and physicians to serve humanity and to study the natural world in order to improve the human condition. Compromising these ethical standards undermines our work and taints future discoveries. Nothing can diminish the fact that using human embryos or fetuses as objects or means of experimentation constitutes an assault against their dignity as human beings, who have a right to the same respect owed to every person, regardless of developmental stage.
This commentary was written by Tara Sander Lee, PhD; Kathleen M. Schmainda, PhD; Maria B. Feeney, PhD; William Drobyski, M.D.; Bryon D. Johnson, PhD; and Keri Hainsworth, PhD, all of the Medical College of Wisconsin.