By Dave Andrusko
A congressional subcommittee heard testimony today from three experts on the now-more-important-than-ever issue of ethical alternatives to scavenging fetal tissue from aborted babies.
As NRL News Today has reported over the past few days, the Trump administration is planning to fund such alternatives with $20 million over the next two years. This follows a decision by the Trump administration to terminate a “one-year, $15,900 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources to acquire human fetal tissue ‘for implantation into severely immune-compromised mice to create chimeric animals that have a human immune system,’” according to The Daily Signal.
Two of the three scientific experts testifying today before the House Subcommittees on Healthcare, Benefits, and Administrative Rules and Government Operations for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform lauded the proven prowess of ethically acceptable alternatives and explained that fetal tissue has produced no breakthroughs. A third witness insisted “Fetal cells and tissue have unique properties that cannot always be replicated by other cell types.”
Tara Sander Lee, Ph. D., an Associate Scholar with Charlotte Lozier Institute, told the subcommittee
I stand before you today with a message of hope. We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements. … [S]cience speaks for itself. After over 100 years of research, no therapies have been discovered or developed that require aborted fetal tissues.
David Prentice, Ph.D, an advisory board member and Chair for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, talked specifically not only about the ethical issues raised, the importance of federal funding going to therapies that work, but also a number of alternatives:
There is no scientific necessity for the continued taxpayer funding of fresh fetal tissue, organs, and body parts from induced abortion. Ample scientific alternatives exist, and modern alternatives have overtaken any need for fresh fetal tissue. Moreover, the practice of using fetal tissue from induced abortion raises significant ethical problems, not least of which is the nebulous interpretation of the term “valuable consideration” or compensation for expenses in the harvest and processing of fetal organs and tissues. Taxpayer funding, which is what this discussion is really about, should go to successful, patient-focused.
In his written testimony, Prentice offered a detailed overview of alternatives to fetal tissue. He began with adult stem cell transplants about which NRL News Today has written frequently:
A 2015 review found that as of December 2012, over one million patients had been treated with adult stem cells. The review only addressed hematopoietic (blood-forming) adult stem cells, not other adult stem cell types, so this is a significant underestimate of the patients who have benefitted from adult stem cell therapies.
A public face for such patients can be found at the educational website stemcellresearchfacts.org, where patients successfully treated with noncontroversial adult stem cells tell their stories in short video vignettes, backed by peer-reviewed publications.
There are at present at least 3,500 ongoing or completed clinical trials using adult stem cells listed in the NIH/FDA-approved database, with over 70,000 people around the globe receiving adult stem cell transplants each year for different conditions. Use of adult and cord blood stem cells in clinical therapy is growing rapidly.