Debunking the myths about human fetal tissue, extolling the ethical alternatives

By Dave Andrusko

Dr. Tara Sander Lee and Dr. Maria Feeney

NRL News Today covers an incredibly broad spectrum of issues, but, necessarily, we pay much of our attention to threats to innocent life that are “in the news.”

But I try as often as I can to talk about issues that may seem to be on the back burner–indeed, may even seem no longer to be threats to the sanctity of innocent human life. One example is the never-ending, albeit out of the public eye, insistence that harvesting fetal tissue/fetal body parts will some day provide a bonanza of medical cures for serious medical conditions.

On Tuesday we reposted a release from an organization known as Heal Without Harm. It describes itself as “a coalition of organizations and citizens dedicated to working with the scientific community to encourage it toward ethical research. The coalition is composed of member organizations, including: Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action and Pro-Life Wisconsin, among others.”

The story–“Researchers Speak out in Favor of the Heal Without Harm Legislative Initiative in Wisconsin”– was about researchers Dr. Tara Sander Lee and Dr. Maria Feeney who at an October 24 press conference urged the passage of the “Heal Without Harm Legislative Initiative” in order to support an ethical approach to research.

The press conference materials that we reposted also offered a brief debunking of the myths that prop up the calls for experimenting on human fetal tissue and organs. I’d like to go into more detail today, based on a reading of their entire statement.

There are four major points. Let me highlight just two, although they all reinforce one another.

Fact #1: “There have been no cures developed that require aborted fetal body parts. This was recently confirmed by the US House Select Investigative Panel after a yearlong investigation, which uncovered evidence on the trafficking of human fetal body parts for research. … The reality is that no current treatments or therapies exist that require harvesting fetal body parts from today’s abortions.”

No cures, no need to harvest fetal body parts. (Fact #2 elaborates on that : “Aborted fetal body parts are not critical for research or medical advancements.”)

Fact #3: “Ethically-derived tissue sources are available to researchers and are saving lives today! ” There are scads of readily available sources–everything from “human tissue samples donated by patients, such as placenta, cord blood, and various tissues from surgeries and biopsies” to cord blood, to “adult somatic cells (such as skin cells) to make induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) that possess an embryonic-like state.”

The statement adds a huge important additional source: “And let’s not forget about adult stem cells, which have saved the lives of over 1 million people worldwide. but not one person is alive today because of stem cells from aborted fetal body parts. “

Here’s a final reminder from Heal without Harm:

In conclusion, we applaud the Heal without Harm Coalition and Wisconsin legislature for bringing these bills forward. They send a strong message that Wisconsin supports the best science without ethical compromise. We urge those that stand in opposition, do not be deceived by the many false and misleading assertions regarding the “need” for aborted fetal body parts in research and medicine. Prohibiting the use of aborted fetal body parts in this state would guarantee professionals and patients in Wisconsin safe and ethically sound cures that have the real promise of healing patients now and in the future.

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