Using Fetal Tissue
There’s new hope for those who suffer from Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and even Alzheimer’s as well as a variety of other neural diseases. Organ and tissue transplants appear to be an effective treatment for these "incurable" disorders. And while it is estimated that as much as 20% of Americans suffer from these diseases, a large bank of donors appears to be able to fill the need. The donors -- aborted human babies.
Since 1983, tissue from aborted babies has been a source for research and treatment of several diseases. Rather than using tissue from accident victims, fetal tissue is preferred because of its large, controlled supply; its easiness of use; and its compatibility with the diseased tissue.
Despite the outrage of many and the reluctance of some, proponents of fetal tissue transplants favor widespread use because of its potential benefit to society. Reasoning that dead tissue is dead tissue, one supporter related, "I don’t think that we had to stop and have a big discussion about our views about abortion, because we were talking about dead fetuses. Not everybody is concerned about how the fetuses got to be dead."
Thus, when abortion is considered a non-issue, the next question is: Why not put all the dead fetuses to some good use? Supporters feel the benefits of fetal tissue transplants overshadow the moral and ethical problems it raises. Opponents of this use are assured that the demand for such tissue will never fuel an increase in the supply. Yet one cannot help but think that this use will be added to the list of reasons for a woman to go ahead with her abortion. Do the ends justify the means? Will America rationalize one of its greatest sins by producing something "good"? Unless opposition is strong, this is only the beginning.
Beginnings, July 1987, Vol. 7 No. 2
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