Scientist Tries to Exploit Coronavirus Outbreak to Push Research Using Aborted Baby Parts

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 18, 2020   |   6:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Abortion activists are finding more reasons to complain about President Donald Trump as the coronavirus spreads.

While they insist that the country’s limited health resources should be devoted to the continued killing of unborn babies in abortions, they also are complaining about the Trump administration’s new restrictions on the use of aborted baby body parts in research, supposedly because it could hinder the creation of a coronavirus treatment.

Even though ethical alternatives, including pluripotent stem cells and tissue from placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluid, are available and effective in developing treatments, some scientists are pushing to use aborted baby body parts instead.

The Washington Post reports a National Institutes of Health researcher recently asked the federal government for a waiver to be allowed to use aborted baby body parts in coronavirus research.

Kim Hasenkrug, an immunologist at NIH, hopes to use “humanized mice” created with human tissue from aborted babies in the research, according to the report. Scientists told the newspaper that an experiment on the mice could take up to 10 days, and, if successful, more experiments on humans would have to occur before the Food and Drug Administration would approve the treatment or vaccine.

“When I hear the vice president saying [they’re] doing everything they can to find vaccines [and treatments], I know that is not true,” an anonymous scientist familiar with the situation told the Post. “Anything we do at this point could save hundreds of thousands of lives. If you wait, it’s too late.”

Here’s more from the report:

According to several researchers familiar with the situation, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive internal dispute, such experiments could be particularly fruitful. Just months ago, before the new coronavirus began to infect people around the world, other U.S. scientists made two highly relevant discoveries. They found that specialized mice could be transplanted with human fetal tissue that develops into lungs — the part of the body the new coronavirus invades. These “humanized mice,” they also found, could then be infected with coronaviruses — to which ordinary mice are not susceptible — closely related to the one that causes the new disease, covid-19.

But even fellow scientist Irving Weissman, an expert in stem cell research at Stanford University, acknowledged that “it isn’t clear” if such an experiment would work. Weissman said Hasenkrug’s experiment is worth a try, but he also suggested that a drug already approved by the FDA may be effective in treating the virus, though he has not done research on it yet, according to the report.

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Meanwhile, spoke with Dr. David Prentice, a biologist and former university professor who is an advisor to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Prentice believes Hasenkrug is exploiting a national outbreak to push unethical research with aborted baby parts at a time when ethical alternatives are already seeing progress or available for research.

“This seems an example of not letting a serious crisis go to waste, another attempt to justify the horrific practice of trafficking in aborted baby body parts.  In the meantime, there are numerous ethical alternatives, including already a first successful use of adult stem cells to treat patients with serious coronavirus pneumonia, as well as mice made from ethical sources that can be used to test and even produce antibodies and other possible therapies for coronavirus.”

It’s tragic that scientists are resisting ethical alternatives, even after the Trump administration created a $20 million grant to invest in ethical research alternatives to aborted baby parts. Pluripotent stem cells, which do not involve destroying a human life, are one promising alternative.

Additionally, other scientists have said research using aborted baby body parts has not been successful. According to Melanie Israel at The Daily Signal:

Proponents of fetal tissue research claim that it has led to advancements such as creating the polio vaccine, while omitting important details about the difference between historic fetal cell lines (which do not require ongoing abortions) and fresh fetal tissue (which does require ongoing abortions).

The original polio vaccines used monkey tissue and fetal cell lines. No current vaccines are made with fresh fetal tissue.

Moreover, fetal tissue transplantation has been unsuccessfully used in attempts to treat ailments ranging from anemia to diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. Attempts to transplant fetal stem cells also have been unsuccessful.

During this global health crisis, authorities and scientists should be working hard to protect human lives by increasing access to and inventing new medical treatments. However, the solutions to the world’s problems should not originate with the destruction of innocent human lives.