TIME Writer Explains 'Why We Still Need Fetal Tissue Research'

July 21st, 2015 5:14 PM

Shocking revelations about Planned Parenthood's sale of unborn-baby organs for medical research "doesn’t mean that research on fetal tissue is wrong Or that it should be stopped," TIME magazine's Alice Park lectured today in her piece, "Why We Still Need Fetal Tissue Research."

Of course, that's a bit of a straw-man argument. You'd be hard-pressed to find pro-lifers who would have moral qualms with fetal tissue that is the result of say a miscarriage rather than an elective abortion.

"Fetal tissue is valuable for medical research," Park protested, hyping the promise of fetal tissue as central to "scientific progress" as applied to a variety of diseases and disorders:

the National Institutes of Health spent $76 million on fetal research in 2014, and fetal tissue has contributed to vaccines for polio, rubella and chicken pox. While recent efforts to transplant fetal tissue to treat conditions like Parkinson’s haven’t been as consistently successful, it’s still critical to scientific progress.

Later in her piece, Park groused that (emphasis mine): 

[T]here’s a blurring of the ethical and political lines here that is both intentional — and intentionally misleading. It’s one that’s always shadowed anything involving fetal tissue in this country. Fetal tissue research was initially allowed under specific conditions and approval by a government Ethics Advisory Board (EAB). During the 1980s, however, as controversy over the source of the fetal tissue — mostly abortions, and primarily elective ones — became increasingly politicized, a moratorium was placed on fetal tissue studies, and the EAB was disbanded. The restriction was lifted in 1993, but the work continued to be a challenge.

In other words, fetal tissue for research should be plentiful, but, well, politically-active pro-lifers are making that exceedingly difficult. In closing her piece, Park practically laid the blame for a supposedly stilted political debate on the ethical boundaries of fetal-tissue research on conservatives and pro-lifers:

Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards issued an apology for the tone of the discussion, acknowledging that “This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.”

But Richards defends the way that Planned Parenthood performs abortions as ethical and legal. “Our donation programs, like any other high-quality health care providers, follows all laws and ethical guidelines. [Women and families’] commitment to life-saving research, developing treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is important and compassionate. And it should be respected, not attacked,” she said in a video responding to the allegations.

But as long as the dialogue about the science and the medical potential of fetal research is entwined in the political debate over abortion, that respect — and the lives that can potentially be saved from these studies — will be hard to come by.

Isn't it telling that we live in a society where more and more folks are concerned about "ethically sourcing" food "from farm to table" in a "sustainable" way, yet when it comes to "ethical sourcing" of fetal tissue for research -- a matter that literally involves the death of human beings -- the Left seems to care not a bit.

Research on fetal tissue from miscarriages, for example, would lack the moral and ethical quandaries presented by procuring fetal tissue from elective abortions, the kind that Planned Parenthood clinics perform every day. Indeed, there's evidence from these released videos that Planned Parenthood abortionists conduct their surgical destruction and extraction of unborn babies in ways that preserve the integrity of fetal organs to better ensure an easier go at research for the scientists who will procure the body parts.

And yet here we are having not just abortion-rights extremists like Planned Parenthood's top brass, but supposedly-objective health-policy journalists like Ms. Park, defending as perfectly ethical the abortion industry's heretofore dirty little secret.