Fetal Tissue Research in Peril Following Planned Parenthood Videos 


Just one month ago, six Planned Parenthood clinics allowed women receiving abortions to opt to donate that fetal tissue for medical research; today, just two clinics continue to do so.

A letter sent to Congress by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards went on the offensive against the videos released by David Daleiden’s “Center for Medical Progress,” accusing the anti-abortion activists of acting “fraudulently and unethically — and perhaps illegally.” Via The Hill:

Three affiliates in California have stopped accepting fetal tissue donations because of controversy surrounding the videos, including one provider that received “security threats,” Richards said. Another affiliate has postponed its program while undergoing renovations, she said.

Fetal tissue research, a widely accepted practice in the medical community, is used by hundreds of universities; thus far, at least one—Colorado State University—has suspended its program pending the video investigation, according to The Hill.

Richards’ letter to Congress was accompanied by a report on the 9 heavily edited videos, which attempt to portray Planned Parenthood officials and affiliates to be selling fetal body parts. The report was written by an independent investigator (former WSJ reporter Glenn Simpson) and commissioned by Planned Parenthood. According to the Washington Post:

Simpson said he also discovered discrepancies between transcripts posted by the antiabortion group and dialogue in the video. And he said he found instances in which the undercover actors goaded Planned Parenthood officials into making flippant remarks, and where inaudible dialogue was transcribed in a way that represented “wishful thinking” — for example, when a lab technician is said to have looked at a fetus and said, “It’s a baby.”

Although scientists have been developing new stem cell technologies that will eventually render fetal tissue less necessary to research, according to Reuters, donations remain essential to certain studies—and “efforts to reduce an already-scarce supply could set back research on birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, eye diseases, and vaccines and treatments for HIV/AIDS, to name a few.” Via Reuters:

One California-based regenerative medicine expert who spoke on condition of anonymity said that lab-manufactured stem cells don’t work for certain kinds of research.
The scientist, whose lab was once the subject of a bomb threat because of its research with fetal tissue, said that embryonic stem cells or reprogrammed cells can’t make organs, which are needed to understand complex diseases such as multiple myeloma or ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, which strikes motor neurons later in life.
“For us, to understand any of a number of disease states, we need organs,” he said.

Through these videos and the resulting conservative pandemonium, anti-abortion groups aren’t just working to limit women’s healthcare options, although that’s certainly bad enough—they’re also fucking with sick and injured people across the country who rely on a wide variety of treatments developed through fetal tissue research.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Associated Press.

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