Unethical to use Tissue from Aborted Fetuses in Research

Fr. Joel Church meets World

Wisconsin Representative Andre Jacque has introduced a bill that would ban research using fetal tissue from abortions. He argues that this kind of research is unethical. Some have accused him of taking advantage of recent videos that show Planned Parenthood apparently selling fetal tissue from abortions. But an article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette reveals that Mr. Jacque actually walked away from a career in bio-medical engineering because he objected to fetal tissue experimentation. He brought this bill forward twice already. It appears that he’s finally getting some traction. Six Wisconsin doctors have endorsed this bill in a recent op-ed piece.

Objectors claim that use of fetal tissues is important for critical research into cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome and other serious health conditions. “We feel it’s bad public policy because it would impact life-saving research,” says a Planned Parenthood spokesperson (in the article above).

It seems strange to hear Planned Parenthood advocate “life-saving research” when they are the ones ending the lives of small children. It would appear that a great many lives would be saved by not aborting them. A fundamental feature of Christian morality is the idea that we should not do things that are evil, even if we expect good outcomes from them. The ends do not justify the means.

I agree with Mr. Jacque that research on tissues obtained from aborted fetuses is unethical. What if a woman wanted to get rid of her husband and so she hired a hit man to end his life. But being health-conscious, she also arranged for her husband to be an organ donor and for his body to then be donated to science at UW-Madison. She said, “Look at all the people who have been helped by my husband’s organs.” But we would rightly conclude that her husband could have continued to use those organs for quite some time. His untimely death remains a crime. Emphasizing the good that comes from it would only make murder seem acceptable. If the university made a habit of accepting such donations, we would rightly conclude that it was also party to a crime.

There is not substantive difference between the example I have given and aborted fetal tissue research. If there is consent, it is consent from the very mother who paid Planned Parenthood to end her child’s life. And the “donation” of tissue comes from the clinic that was responsible for the child’s death. Scientific research creates a demand for such tissues that legitimizes these untimely deaths, and creates a climate of disregard for small lives (see the video below). Even if you refuse to grant that a life has ended, there still remain many ethical problems. Since the abortion provider is also the one providing the fetal tissue, there could be pressure to choose abortion methods that are more risky for the mother in order to create a better “product.” And when they are allowed to collect “service fees” for the tissue, how can we truly say that tissue is not being sold? It seems that the collection of tissue by scientists creates incentives that compromise the woman’s health and laws preventing sale of body parts.

It also appears that this research is not without its dark side effects. An article in the Journal of Immunotoxicology suggests that the aborted fetal cells used to make 23 different vaccines could be harming the children that receive them (take a look at Sound Choice for more detailed information). If this is true, it’s the ultimate case of evil biting back: the cells of children we did not want are harming the “wanted” children. We find this ancient wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures:

“Egypt shall become a desolation
and Edom a desolate wilderness,
for the violence done to the people of Judah,
because they have shed innocent blood in their land.”
(Joel 3:19)

Even though the powerful may ignore the cries of the powerless, the universe is not deaf to their pleas. Powerful lobbying groups will speak up against this bill. Many will say the research is too important. I would argue that the little lives are too important for us to stand by and ignore what is happening. If you disagree with me, I urge you to watch this video first before you make up your mind. We must make our voices heard for those who cannot speak. Little lives matter.

[kad_youtube url=”http://youtu.be/FzMAycMMXp8″ ]