NRL News

The ridiculously exaggerated and unproven claims of medical benefits from human fetal tissue from abortions

by | Oct 1, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

PPFAmaskstruthOver the past couple of days, we’ve twice offered “Five Takeaways” from Tuesday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in which PPFA President Cecile Richards defended the nation’s leading abortion provider against all comers.

We mentioned what we’ve called the fetal tissue ruse both there and in two other posts. Richards had many objectives at the hearing, but one whose importance may be understated was to “prove” that harvesting the intact body parts of aborted babies was a positive good. (“Fetal tissue” also includes whole body parts such as kidneys, lungs, and livers.)

Thus she made two arguments. First, research from fetal tissue has been hugely beneficial to patients. Second, the controversy arising from the undercover videos posted by the Center for Medical Progress has stirred more women to volunteer to “donate” their baby’s tissues.

We’ve already discussed the blatantly manipulative way PPFA induces women to “volunteer”, so let’s talk about Richards’ claims for the curative powers of human fetal tissue.

As we always do when the topic is human fetal tissue, I asked Dr. David Prentice for his input. Dr. Prentice is Charlotte Lozier Institute Vice President and Research Director. He told NRL News Today

Numerous claims, some ridiculously exaggerated and all unsupported, have been made about the scientific and medical benefits of human fetal tissue from abortions. One of the most egregious is contained in the consent forms for fetal tissue donation used by various Planned Parenthood clinics, for women about to undergo an abortion.

The forms state that “tissue that has been aborted has been used to treat and find a cure for such diseases as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and AIDS.” The statement is obviously false; fetal tissue transplants have been attempted since the 1920s, yet with largely dismal and sometimes catastrophic results for the patients.

Meanwhile, over 1.2 million patients have received adult stem cell transplants for dozens of conditions, and adult stem cells are considered the gold standard for patient transplants. The misleading Planned Parenthood statement was crafted to exert undue influence on a woman who may still be uncertain about moving forward with the procedure.

What about the issue of vaccines, I asked?

Advocates desperate to justify fetal tissue from abortions sometimes try to claim vaccines as their boon to mankind. While historically some viruses were grown in fetal tissue and fetal cell lines – including poliovirus in the 1950’s and 1960’s – the vast majority of vaccines including polio vaccine long ago stopped using fetal tissue in their production. Even the CDC in 2001 noted that there was no longer a need for new fetal tissue for vaccine production. Indeed, the recent successfully field-tested Ebola vaccine (designated rVSV-ZEBOV) used monkey cells.

Okay, what about the claims that human fetal tissue is needed for basic research?

Broad, unsupported hyperbole that fetal tissue is still needed for basic biology research or to study the immune system, or understand development, are grasping attempts to justify antiquated research methods. Current progressive alternatives such as induced pluripotent stem cells (made directly from patients using skin or other normal cells), umbilical cord blood stem cells, and adult stem cells provide more reliable, validated models for laboratory study, with significant potential for actual clinical use now and in the future.

As we finished up our discussion, I asked Dr. Prentice about a story just published that touted an operation for a common condition of blindness that used human embryonic stem cells [hESC].

But it’s not the first patient to get hESC, even for this condition [age-related macular degeneration]. Ocata (formerly known as ACT) has been running these trials in U.S. for at least two years. In their paper on it, they note that they can’t even be sure the results aren’t due to placebo effect.

The Brits are hyping this like crazy, in hopes of validating their embryo-research path.

And it’s too soon to tell if this patient will have benefit or an adverse event.

Categories: PPFA
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