cadaveric fetal tissue -- and you
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 24, 2005
Princeton's Professor Robbie George has an article in the Weekly Standard in which he hits us with some alarming news on how close "fetal farming" is to becoming reality:
Up to now, embryonic stem cell advocates have claimed that they are only interested in stem cells harvested from embryos at the blastocyst (or five-to six-day) stage. They have denied any intention of implanting embryos either in the uterus of a volunteer or in an artificial womb in order to harvest cells, tissues, or organs at more advanced stages of embryonic development or in the fetal stage. Advocates are well aware that most Americans, including those who are prepared to countenance the destruction of very early embryos, are not ready to approve the macabre practice of "fetus farming." However, based on the literature I have read and the evasive answers given by spokesmen for the biotechnology industry at meetings of the President's Council on Bioethics, I fear that the long-term goal is indeed to create an industry in harvesting late embryonic and fetal body parts for use in regenerative medicine and organ transplantation.
Scientists associated with a leading firm in the embryonic stem cell field, Advanced Cell Technology, recently published a research paper discussing the use of stem cells derived from cattle fetuses that had been produced by cloning (to create a genetic match). Although the article did not mention human beings, it was plain that the purpose of the research was not to cure diseased cows, but rather to establish the potential therapeutic value of doing precisely the same thing with human beings. For those who have ears to hear, the message is clear. I am hardly the first to perceive this message. Slate magazine bioethics writer Will Saletan drew precisely the same conclusion in a remarkable five-part series, the final installment of which was entitled "The Organ Factory: The Case for Harvesting Older Human Embryos."
If we do not put into place a legislative ban on fetus farming, public opposition to the practice could erode. People now find it revolting. But what will happen to public sentiment if the research is permitted to go forward and in fact generates treatments for some dreadful diseases or afflictions? I suspect that those in the biotech industry who do look forward to fetus farming are betting that moral opposition will collapse when the realistic prospect of cures is placed before the public.
And yet again:
My suspicions and sense of urgency have been heightened by the fact that my home state of New Jersey has passed a bill that specifically authorizes and encourages human cloning for, among other purposes, the harvesting of "cadaveric fetal tissue." A "cadaver," of course, is a dead body. The bodies in question are those of fetuses created by cloning specifically to be gestated and killed as sources of tissues and organs. What the bill envisages and promotes, in other words, is fetus farming. The biotechnology industry put an enormous amount of money into pushing this bill through the New Jersey legislature and is now funding support for similar bills in states around the country.
Time to put some heat under your congressman.
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