A Response To “Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The Not Watching The GOP Convention Edition. Item #3, Fetal Research Ban'”

I promised a response to Chris Marschner’s provocative Comment Of The Day on Item #3 in the post, “Ethics Escape. 8/24/2020: The “Not Watching The GOP Convention” Edition. Here it is…

Chris begins,“Before I go any farther, I believe that fetal tissue is crucial to research.” That’s an excellent stipulation; I concur. Thus we agree that obtaining fetal tissue is beneficial, and an objective with positive value for society.

That leaves as the sole issue for ethical debate as whether using the source of such tissue creates such a counterbalancing negative effect that the positive effect, which has been conceded, is overcome and rendered moot.

Chris says he “can see an argument in favor of the Board’s decision to deny access to such tissues.” I can see the arguments; I wouldn’t make the arguments. I’m assuming Chris not only sees them but agrees with them to some extent. Chris goes on,

I may agree with Turley that such research use of fetal tissue does not incentivize women to have abortions. However ,I do believe it incentivizes sellers of such tissues. Such sales make a commodity of aborted fetal tissues and the of other human tissue donations; this is not some far-fetched fear. Do we want to be like China, which forcibly removes kidneys so that others can have a transplant?

I don’t think “may” is reasonable here. Professor Turley states unequivocally that women do not have abortions to harvest fetal tissue, and while it is impossible to prove a negative, there is literally no evidence that indicates this is a problem. Hospitals sell medical waste, including organs for transplant. Chris’s logict applies with equal force to all things removed from patients, who have a right to deny the medical institution from selling it or using them themselves. The patients, by law, cannot sell their tissues and organs themselves, however, and few choose to take the items home as souvenirs. Almost all the time, patients let health care providers dispose of such things as they see fit, and why wouldn’t they?

The “Coma” scenario, where doctors intentionally kill patients to harvest and profit from their organs, has been around for decades, (The Robin Cook novel was written in 1973.) It just hasn’t materialized, and in the case of fetal tissue, nobody would be killed, in the eyes of the law, if medical professionals were selling it as profit center. The argument is a straw man, a separate theoretical problem related to the issue being discussed, but not strictly relevant. In this it is like the anti-cloning debate. Opponents of cloning worry about how the technology might be abused, but that’s a downstream issue. There is nothing inherently unethical about cloning, just as there is nothing inherently unethical about using fetal tissue for research. If unethical practices emerge, you deal with them directly, not by eliminating the otherwise neutral or beneficial process that creates the opportunity for abuse.

Chris:

Imagine a society that becomes insensitive to the concept of the sanctity of life. It is not outside the realm of possibility that we could begin to allow doctors to withhold life saving but costly treatments in order hasten the demise of a potential donor.

The first sentence is irrelevant in the context of this discussion  because, via Roe v. Wade, the law of the land does not acknowledge fetuses as human life. I think Roe was and is a terrible decision; I am certain that the pro-abortion position that unborn children are like warts or parasites is intellectually dishonest and a belief made necessary by the political objective of abortion access rather than justified by reality, but that doesn’t matter. The U.S. position isn’t insensitive to the sanctity of human life because society and the culture, through the courts, have absorbed the legal fiction that fetuses are not human life. If and when that fiction is rejected—personally, I don’t foresee it happening—then the sanctity of life issue becomes relevant. As for the rest of Chris’s statement: that is happening already, thanks in part to the costs of treatment and the limits of insurance.

I won’t say that doctors pressuring a family to take a brain-dead loved one off of life support because a 17-year old woman needs a heart and lung transplant stat is unethical. It theoretically violates Kant’s Categorical Imperative, but Kant wasn’t considering brain dead patients before such patients could be kept alive. This is when Utilitarian balancing is called for. “Are we willing to let doctors or insurers make that call to take the patient off the vent so he can become a heart donor? I certainly hope not, ” Chris asks. Well, we don’t, and shouldn’t, but the input of those not emotionally involved in the decision is valuable.

Chris continues,

I don’t know if there is any way to evaluate this except on moral grounds. Ethically, you are not harming anything directly and may actually create great long term value. But this analysis is predicated on speculation as to the future costs and benefits.

On the contrary, these are exactly the kinds of ethical problems that morality is useless in addressing. Easy, sure. Requiring no complex thought, absolutely. But the benefit of rules based on absolutes is that they keep constraining analysis even after the problem has changed. Sound ethical decision-making has to include reasonable assumptions about both long and short term consequences. (Elsewhere on the blog, I call that “ethics chess.”) In the realm of fetal tissue research, the assumptions are that it is likely to cure diseases, save lives and benefit humanity. Morality doesn’t care about that, just as moralists will say war is immoral, and allow the Holocaust to continue if it can’t be halted by killing people. Morality is the meat-axe of societal behavior control. Meat-axes have their uses, but evaluating fetal tissue research trade-offs is not among them.

Now Chris gets into my previous field, criminal law:

When I started thinking about the law, the concept of the fruit of the poisonous tree came to mind. I know that abortions are legal but I am looking at this from the point of view as to why we prohibit the use of evidence of a crime using Constitutionally proscribed methods. We are willing to throw out all sorts of incriminating evidence that ties a serial killer to a crime (waste) to protect the rights of the many. It is for that larger more important purpose that we are willing to waste valuable evidence and let a killer go free. The concept is a doctrine not a law that courts use to create a significant deterrent for law enforcement to not take shortcuts. Making fetal tissue available only for the most important research priorities and denying it to most would create a relatively high quasi-valuation that reflects how we as human being value that which had the potential of becoming a fully formed human being.

Nobody likes the Exclusionary Rule. Eventually it is likely to be eliminated; it certainly is more likely to go the way of the Dodo than Roe v. Wade. The idea of punishing all of society by allowing dangerous criminals to go free (“Dirty Harry” is my favorite anti-Exclusionary Rule/ Fruit of the Poisonous Tree movie) because police missed a step or ten is extreme and draconian, and thus a poor template for any other policy. Moreover, as Chris says, it involves a punishment for egregious government violation of individual rights. The Supreme Court says that fetuses have no rights. As long as that’s true, there’s no abortion analogy to the Exclusionary Rule (and its cousin the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, since the fruit has been officially declared yummy) in law or ethics.

If human fetal tissue is an important research commodity, and Chris and I agree, on that, and the current state of the law is that no rights of any individual are breached in obtaining it, and there is no identifiable harm to anyone by using what would otherwise be destroyed for likely or even possible human benefit, then  there is no valid ethical argument against using human fetal tissue.

33 thoughts on “A Response To “Comment Of The Day: ‘Ethics Escape, 8/24/2020: The Not Watching The GOP Convention Edition. Item #3, Fetal Research Ban'”

    • ME
      But Jack says – The U.S. position isn’t insensitive to the sanctity of human life because society and the culture, through the courts, have absorbed the legal fiction that fetuses are not human life.

      The law says it cannot consent and has none to give or withhold.

  1. Although “nobody likes” the effects of the Exclusionary Rule, I feel it must be defended simply because it provides a check and balance on government power. If police can use evidence obtained in an illegal search, then what recourse is there against that abuse of power?

    In other words, I’d rather see Robert Stone’s conviction thrown out over determining the wiretap warrant was invalid than via pardon.

    • I’d be happy to give up the exclusionary rule in favor of it being a criminal offense to illegally obtain evidence, with the punishment of being permanently barred from being a cop ever again, and additional punishments if you try to conceal the fact that you did it. If you the only way you can get the evidence you need is to break in and get it, let the government use the evidence, but don’t complain about losing your job.

      There has to be some incentive to bar casual abuse of authority. Making such evidence useless sort of eliminates the incentive, if you get caught doing it. An actual personal negative consequence seems likely to be more effective.

    • But would you rather have a mad dog killer who has randomly killed a priest, a young woman and a twelve year old boy be loosed on the community because Harry Callaghan stepped on his wounded leg to make him tell where he had buried another girl alive, so said maniac could hijack a school bus full of children?

  2. I sometimes wonder if you’re arguing points that you don’t actually believe because you want your commentors to interact with the ideas. This is one of those times;

    Before we get started, you do a lot of “SCOTUS has ruled”, “law of the land” talk in this response, and while we’re all very aware that you’re a lawyer, the site is called “Ethics Alarms”. Number four on your list of rationalizations is Marion Barry’s Defense, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.“ followed directly by the compliance dodge. you make the point very succinctly that ethics function in a way that is connected to laws, but ultimately independent of them. No amount of legal stick handling ever made slavery ethical, but there was a time when it was legal. My take on this, and feel free to correct me if you think I’m being unfair, is that you don’t actually believe this is ethical, and so you’re falling back on a legal defense, because the legality of fetal tissue research is obviously on much more solid footing.

    “Opponents of cloning worry about how the technology might be abused, but that’s a downstream issue. There is nothing inherently unethical about cloning, just as there is nothing inherently unethical about using fetal tissue for research. If unethical practices emerge, you deal with them directly, not by eliminating the otherwise neutral or beneficial process that creates the opportunity for abuse.”

    I think this ignores the reality of how that fetal tissue came into being. If we could go out a run a combine through the fetus fields and collect all the biological samples we needed, then I doubt there’d be nearly as much push back against the idea. The problem is that fetal tissue is almost entirely the product of abortion. I think you’re trying to separate the issues and say “Well, if we’ve already got this aborted fetus, it’d be a real shame if we didn’t use it for something.” And if someone doesn’t recognize that a fetus is actually a person, that makes a certain amount of sense. But if they do, that can easily be translated to: “Well, we’ve already killed the kid, how worse is it to blenderize it for parts?”

    I don’t particularly care if abortion is legal, and I’m not required to internalize legal fictions. If you are confused as to whether or not a fetus is an unborn human or a rutabaga, then perhaps give her nine months to prove their humanity to you. Until we figure out a way to replicate stem cells in a petri dish without cutting up the unborn, we’re cutting up the unborn, and giving people financial incentives to cut up the unborn is ghoulish.

  3. I do appreciate the critique. It helps me form better arguments.

    BTW the use of”may” early on is one of those things I am working on to reduce passivity in my writing. I should have said simply I agree.

    ( I should note that on the issue at hand I attempted to take an oppositional position to the original post for argument’s sake)

    A substantial amount of your rebuttal relies of established legal precedent. How does something being legal automatically become ethical? How does a SCOTUS decision determination of what fetal tissues are determine if the sale is ethical. There have been many references to Marion Barry who said if it is legal it must be ethical.

    To me the strongest argument for using fetal tissue is that it is technically abandoned material. The strongest argument against is that most research involving stem cells do not require omnipotent stem cells an could use more readily available pluripotent stem cells.

    My thinking is that we should use fetal cells when necessary and only when necessary or else we should simply commoditize the tissues, eliminate the advisory commission, and all laws affecting the sale of their own body parts. We lionize those who selflessly do live donations. We should not moralize over a person selling a kidney or a piece of their liver when the medical people charge substantial sums to do the surgery. The most valuable player in such scenarios is the donor who also incurs the most risk. Without the donor the patient dies and the surgeon cannot earn a living.

    We need to be consistent in our morals ethics and law.

  4. I never understood why they let the bad guy go away in Dirty Harry. He tried to murder Harry. Isn’t attempted murder per se evidence of wrongdoing?

  5. I can’t help but wonder if the fetal tissue were not sold, i.e. no funds or other consideration, change hands, would we feel differently. I know I would. Following the money has always been the determining factor for me. And the idea that someone realizes a monetary gain is beyond acceptable.

    • And the idea that someone realizes a monetary gain is beyond acceptable.

      Hmmm, sounds Marxist to me.

      Why do you hate captalism?

    • This is ick rather than ethics though. People sell their hair. They sell plasma. If one accepts society’s verdict that an embryo is just tissue and not “human life,” then what’s unacceptable about selling it, any more than selling a kidney.

      • Coercion.

        Judge: I’m not approving your bankruptcy. You didn’t list kidneys among your assets, go sell one.

        Tangential: Ever seen Repo: The Genetic Opera? It’s an awful (some say so bad it’s good) move and it covers the topic of transplanted organ repossession–in song!

        • All covered by current law.,,,and you’re jumping to a slippery slope that won’t exists, The fact that the government must not make you sell part of your body raises the natural query: why should it have the power to stop you from selling part of your body?

          • Why does it have the power to prevent you from putting things in your body?

            The weather today was uncomfortable in the extreme, I’m physically and emotionally wiped out, do you really want to get into the weeds on libertarian positions that I’m not sure either of us actually hold?

            • I don’t hold them, indeed. The point is that there are unavoidable slippery slopes, and those with serviceable ways to limit the slip via law. The admitted value of body parts is in the latter category.

  6. I know slippery slope arguments can be annoying, however we have seen, for example, how the years of race-baiting rhetoric that “all cops hates blacks” has led to the current madness.

    In that spirit I wonder, regarding this issue, just how far the commidification of unborn baby parts could go. Once upon a time child sacrifice in some societies was acceptable and even the rule. It would be nice to think we have evolved behaviorally to never entertain such horror, yet after seeing the way recently groups of teens and wild-eyed adults have chased and surrounded those they presume guilty of wrong-think, like jackels, could such barbarism make a comeback?

    Could we justify using women to become “tissue-makers” if only they are compensated? Could we justify using the unborn for things like soda flavoring or hair products? Is that already happening? Could we jump from using the unborn to born but with defects or some other issue? Can we justify cannibalism as a means to “save the planet?” Is utilitarianism sometimes an excuse to rationalize the dehuminization of people in order to push through some grand and supposed ideal of humanity that isn’t even possible in a Star Trek episode? Will sacrificing a child or adult make the harvest plentiful when it has in the past?

    The “downstream” issues that come up after supposed good ideas are well implemented can be the cause for even greater problems that generations have to deal with later. We have seen the good idea that women are equal turned into women degrading themselves in the name of a sexual revolution that mainly has benefitted immature men. We have seen how
    the good idea of fighting racism has led crowds to burn down the businesses of those most affected by racism. We have said the Red Scare was utterly without merit while Marxism has slowly poisoned our county using the arts, education, and media as a means for indoctrination.

    Of course women should be equal, people of all races should thrive, and if someone wants to believe in some secular utopia where the proletariat magically rules the world, in this country they can. The downstream of it all is not simply the what of something or even the why but the how. How do we keep from justifying dehumanization in the name of helping humanity? How do we use materials of any kind wisely and with respect. How do we check our unethical rationalizations so we don’t do more harm than good, no matter how utilitarian or beneficial the item or action is?

    The fetal tissue/unborn baby parts debate demonstrates the potential for barbaric utilitarianism justified by man-made laws. It’s an excellent topic to examine the interplay of ideas, rules, benefits, and consequences in society. Ultimately my opinion on this topic is both moral and ethical. Flawed of course, but at least I am alive to make these considerations.

  7. “Hospitals sell medical waste, including organs for transplant.”
    Hospitals have to pay to dispose of their biomedical waste. Because there are special requirements on handling potentially infectious material it cost considerably more than regular trash disposal. Improper disposal can result in OHSA fines of $5,000 to $70,000 per violation plus possible state and local fines. The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 prohibits buying or selling organs for transplant and anyone convicted of doing so faces 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

    Selling hair or plasma is not comparable to selling a kidney. Hair is totally unnecessary for life; getting it cut off presents no health hazard barring having Sweeney Todd as your barber and it will grow back. Plasma is necessary for life but it regenerates so quickly that the FDA allows two donations per week and there is only minimal risk associated with donation. Harvesting a kidney requires major surgery. Kidneys do not regenerate and while a full life can be lived with one kidney there are a number of reasons why it is good to have a spare.

    The people who sell plasma are overwhelmingly poor and at least in this area many are drug addicts. Yes, addicts can sell plasma provided they are not intoxicated on the day it is taken. Plasma is tested for some illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis and donors are questioned about other disqualifying conditions but when there is a financial incentive, lies will be told. If selling organs were legal, I think this population would be the major source, albeit with more rigorous screening.

    • Well, a hospital “charges” for an organ transplant, for example. Saying it isn’t charging for the heart itself is a bit of accounting sleight of hand.

      “Selling hair or plasma is not comparable to selling a kidney. Hair is totally unnecessary for life; getting it cut off presents no health hazard barring having Sweeney Todd as your barber and it will grow back. Plasma is necessary for life but it regenerates so quickly that the FDA allows two donations per week and there is only minimal risk associated with donation. Harvesting a kidney requires major surgery. Kidneys do not regenerate and while a full life can be lived with one kidney there are a number of reasons why it is good to have a spare.”

      So what is the basis for making sale illegal or calling it unethical? Because it’s not essential? (Easy for YOU to say Hair Doesn’t Matter!) Because it’s major surgery? If you could just pop kidneys out under local anesthetic, would that make selling them OK?

      • If you are saying that the hospital pads the bill by charging more for items on the invoice than they would for other surgeries of equal complexity just because it is a transplant and in that way are “selling” an organ, then I suppose that is possible. Almost all of these surgeries are being paid for by Medicare or another government program and I know from my own experience that those programs are very aggressive and diligent in auditing medical providers for fraudulent activity.

        My hair is thinning and I certainly don’t have enough to supplement my income. I don’t think the ease or difficulty of harvesting a kidney should make any difference as to whether or not selling one is legal. I think the ethical issue primarily comes down to the Mickey Mantle question. Suitable cadaver organs for transplant are rare and have a literal life and death value to those who need them. If people were allowed to sell their kidneys to the highest bidder or the surviving family of an organ donor could do the same, they would naturally demand a high price (although there have been cases of very altruistic people who gave a kidney away). Should the wealthy and powerful get first crack at the very limited supply of organs or should they be allocated on some more equitable basis?

        • It’s funny to use “Mickey Mantle” to name this issue, since absolutely nobody believes that Mantle suddenly got a second liver by pure luck, and that special manipulation was involved because he was the immortal—well, not quite— #7. Money isn’t the only way to make transplants inequitable.

          My point is that these operations are profitable, and you can’t make money from them without the organs. A consulting firm Milliman tallies the average costs of a kidney transplant at just over $400,000, and the cost for the average heart transplant at $1.4 million. they can divide up the charges any way they like, but what is the value of a commodity that allows a hospital to be reimbursed to the tune of $1.4 million? If it has such value, why is only the second hand owner allowed to get the benefit of it?

  8. Mrs Q writes:

    …for example, how the years of race-baiting rhetoric that “all cops hates blacks” has led to the current madness.

    No one writing on this blog — to date — has any sort of clear idea about how the distorted present has come about. This is a challenging statement — typical of me and by design — but it is completely true. No one here has any idea how these things have come about, and therefore no clear idea how they may be rectified.

    …has led to the current madness…

    That might be one of the efficient causes but there are other, more relevant or more determining formal causes. How it has come about, and how it is coming about, that white European Americans themselves have turned against themselves suicidally, and how they themselves are the authors of what is now going on in our present — now that would be an interesting investigation in causation. The currents of causation must be traced back much further. The study of this must become far more serious, and a lot less *drunk*.

    The “downstream” issues that come up after supposed good ideas are well implemented can be the cause for even greater problems that generations have to deal with later.

    We have seen how the good idea of fighting racism has led crowds to burn down the businesses of those most affected by racism. We have said the Red Scare was utterly without merit while Marxism has slowly poisoned our county using the arts, education, and media as a means for indoctrination.

    Instead of merely stating what has been made to seem obvious — that so-called racism must be *fought* — I am much more interest in how specific European American-descended identity can be recovered. Not how it can be, or should be, done away with but how it can be recovered, preserved and empowered. In my (present) view it is not that *racism* must be fought but that European Americas, and European-American Christians, must recover the will and the desire to self-value and self-assert.

    The causal chains — in ideas, in economics, in philosophy — that have led to the suicidal will of Europeans (the imperfect term is ‘White Europeans’ but this only scratches the surface of what is meant, and what must be understood) who now participate in self-destructive disempowerment and ‘dispossession’ needs to be arrested. Brought to a halt. Put in reverse.

    Once the venom of anti-whiteness has moved into it virulent phase it is hard — I admit this — to grasp how it must be dealt with. Whatever moves in them must be seen as — must be redefined as — an expression of evil. I do not see a way around this. In any case they must not be tolerated. And the reason is because it is that toleration — the primary mistake of Europeans themselves — that is the source of the problem(s) that now come to flower.

    Though it might seem contradictory my solution — the solution I conceive as necessary — is spiritual and also must take shape within a Christian ethics. But not the modern strains of pseudo-Christian forms. Something more defining and powerful.

    I do not think it sits well for anyone who writes on this blog yet it does seem to be true that *we* are part of a process, and there is such a process going on, that involves (as some say) ‘taking back our country’. But that can be extended to ‘taking back the Occident’ and also ‘recovering Europe’.

    One of the things that I have received from my time on this blog is an awareness of the degree no one, or so few, can actually arrive at a solid definitional stance. And it is all that inhibits that that must come to the fore and become energized.

    My friends are those who recognize and serve those processes. My enemies those who do not.

    An interesting book that develops ideas germane to this topic:

    The Sword of Christ by Giles Corey.

    • We have said the Red Scare was utterly without merit while Marxism has slowly poisoned our county using the arts, education, and media as a means for indoctrination.

      Interesting statement. If the ‘Red Scare’ had been able to express itself differently, and if a whole range of causal trends could have been better understood, the Red Scare might have been carried out differently. Why was there such susceptibility to ‘infection’? Why was it pursued with such zealousness and commitment? Why is what is *evil* so easily confused as a *good*?

      There was — indeed — something to be scared about, but who could have adequately defined what that was and what it is? One thing that always remained with me is how Richard Weaver (in Ideas Have Consequences) clearly identified the nihilistic currents even as America was stunningly victorious in the Second World War.

      He asserted that the seeds of destruction were already present, though perhaps less potently than now.

      Also, I think we generally make a mistake (though an understandable one) when we refer so generally to Marxism. In many ways Marx’s analysis and his ‘discoveries’ were those of genius. And these ideas are highly relevant and if I may say ‘useful’ to an analysis of ourselves and our present.

      So what is it that operates in the Alinsky-style Marxist praxis that needs to be resisted, counter-manded? That is a hard thing to identify. Is it simply destructive animus? An animus borne of ressentiment? What *will* is operating there?

      I would suggest that if one could answer that question one would have established a significant platform for reversal.

      Some part of what I have been coming to understand of Marx comes from Isaiah Berlin:

      • “In many ways Marx’s analysis and his ‘discoveries’ were those of genius.”

        Sorry, you lost me on that one completely.

        • Independent of his political visions and revolutionary dreams he developed ideas on the high relevance of the economic and material sphere of life as determining the way people define life, how they orient themselves within this plane where we exist. And of course he theorized a great deal about how different people, in different sectors of society, and curtailed as it were by the means by which they earned their livelihood, developed a corresponding large-view, yet without necessarily understanding the causal relationship.

          I am sure there is more that can be said about him in a positive light, but it is not my area of interest.

          Someday, if you have the time, the talk by Isaiah Berlin goes into this a bit. I always like listening to him. He is a *marvelous talker*. That was really his art: his talks and his discourses.

  9. Hmmm–questioning the potential corruption of money makes me a Marxist? Hardly. Pre-covid I had more than 400 employees and have been in business over 30 years. In that time I have seen how money is a positive incentive for the vast majority of the population. However, there will always be that very small percentage who will ignore their conscience (assuming they have one) and ignore ethical issues to advance their own interests at the detriment of others. I believe that describes a realist not a Marxist Not knowing how the charges for disposing of medical waste are determined, it seems that if the waste is given away, that’s a savings to the institution, not a cost. If there is a “handling” charge paid to some government agency (now that is Marxist) then certainly the recipient should cover those expenses. Back to the suggestion of my being a Marxist, you may be closer than you think. My father made the House on un-American Activities list in the 1950s. To this day my brother and I laugh at the mere suggestion of that categorization of our father but it gave us a very clear understanding of how cancel culture works.

  10. Personally I have absolutely no problem using donated Human Fetal Tissue (HFT) for research purposes and I support research along these lines that I too think is critical to the advancement to medical research. I don’t care who pays for it and that includes the United States government but my opinion on this topic is not the final say for what the government chooses to spend tax dollars on, because of the source of HFT the politics of the day dominate these kind of funding decisions.

    I’m going to go way out on a limb here.

    In Turley’s original piece that started all this entire conversation the Human Fetal Tissue Research
    Ethics Advisory Board was given the task to reject or accept applications for funding based on the ethical findings of the board. This evaluation of the research proposals was to determine whether or not it was considered ethical for the government to fund HFT research with tax payer dollars. This evaluation of the research projects was not to evaluate whether the research was beneficial or not, or whether the research should or should not be done, just whether it was considered ethical for the United States government to fund a particular HFT research funding request with tax payer dollars. All funding sourced from tax payer dollars is political in nature and it makes no difference if the funding is approved or disapproved the current political administration will be attacked for the decision and it’s clear that the current political administration is anti-abortion.

    NOTE: The one and only research project what was approved for funding stated “A member noted that the strength of the proposal is its attempt to improve an existing model and its accessibility and generalizability. The member noted that another strength was that the investigators are planning to use preexisting HFT stored in a biorepository and collected according to guidelines, with no need to acquire additional tissue for the planned studies. If successful, the research will obviate the need for HFT in future models.” The rest of the research projects were rejected because there was no assurances that they wouldn’t be harvesting new HFT for the research. The ethical advisory board did not have a problem with using HFT that has already been collected and stored, just had a problem with funding research projects that might need to collect new HFT.

    No matter what anyone thinks about HFT research or it’s benefits, any funding coming from the United States government for any kind of research is inherently based on the politics of the day. The current politics of the day is that the United States government shouldn’t be funding things related to abortion and tissue that is obtained from new abortions. This in no way stops research from happening using private funding just restricts what the United States government chooses to fund.

    Personally I thought Turley’s response to the boards choices were based primarily on an emotional reaction that was built upon the fate of his father years ago. Turley wrote…

    “During the Bush Administration I wrote in opposition to the ban of federally supported research using fetal tissue stem cells. At the time, my father was dying for Parkinson’s — just one of millions of people who were suffering from conditions and diseases that could be cured or relieved with the help of such research. Now, The Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board, appointed by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, has blocked virtually every application for fetal tissue research to the HHS on ethical grounds. The result is the same. It is an effective ban disguised as an ethics review and the result is the lost of vital time and research for millions who are suffering in this country. It also places a political chokehold on academic work that will put our country at a disadvantage with virtually every other country pursuing new cures and treatments based on fetal tissue research.”

    My response to this paragraph in the comment section of Turley’s blog was as follows…

    “Jonathan Turley wrote, “It is an effective ban disguised as an ethics review and the result is the lost of vital time and research for millions who are suffering in this country.”

    “Effective ban”? Really Jonathan? You’re engaging in unethical fear mongering hyperbole. Just because the Federal Government doesn’t choose to fund something doesn’t mean it’s an effective ban.

    Jonathan Turley wrote, “It also places a political chokehold on academic work that will put our country at a disadvantage with virtually every other country pursuing new cures and treatments based on fetal tissue research.”

    I disagree.

    The federal government is not, and should not be, the only source for medical research funding. This is a free market system and researchers can use that free market to obtain the dollars they want for their research based on the merits of their proposals.”

    There is way too much reliance on government funding. Government should NOT be the sole or even the main source for research because that funding is based on politics, if the government becomes the sole source for research then politics is literally controlling what the industry is and is not doing and that is a very slippery slope that we don’t want to go down. Let the free market show us what can be accomplished.

    • Jack,
      Rats, there was an extra carriage return that was copied and pasted in the first sentence of the second full paragraph right after “Human Fetal Tissue Research…”.

      Could you delete it to clean up that unintended white space on the second line of the paragraph?

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