Out of the field of medical research this week comes two very different stories that highlight two very different approaches to ethics. In America, the Trump administration has imposed restrictions on research using fetal tissue. In Mexico, researchers are paying women to get pregnant then abort… for science, of course.
Both of these stories deserve some unpacking.
Fetal Tissue Research in America
This story isn’t actually new. It was last summer that the Trump administration decided to curtail fetal tissue research on the grounds of ethics. The reason it’s coming up again (right here, right now) is because a pro-abortion journalist just published a piece on this issue at the Washington Post. And it’s got some pretty sizable holes.
Confusion on What “Pro-Life” Means & The Common Good
The author accuses disrupting research using fetal tissue of being anti-life, saying, “So much for the [Trump administration’s] “pro-life” legacy.” This is a good place to start. A classic tool of abortion advocates is to try to distract us. “Well, you can’t call yourself pro-life if you don’t feed the hungry on weekends. If you don’t adopt 7 kids. If you don’t protest war. If you don’t recycle. Etc.”
The term “pro-life” came into popular use following Roe v. Wade. And today, it has a branding issue. Even pro-life people have fallen into the trap of allowing the term to refer to every social justice issue in existence. But doing so is an extreme disservice to the movement. The more we try to do, the less effectively we can do it. Every important issue deserves its own movement, filled with the people who are called to it. We are called to abolish abortion, the injustice that has killed well over 60 million innocent people in the last 47 years. And it’s absolutely big enough to deserve its own movement.
He also makes the case that fetal tissue research has done a lot for the common good by helping to find cures to a number of diseases. The common good is great. But here’s the rub: a civil society does not abide by a “the ends justify the means” mentality. Anything we use to justify abortion, anything at all, helps abortion maintain its foothold in our society. Allowing the country’s largest abortion vendor to sell fetal tissue to researchers is not an ethical way to make scientific advances. And this point leads us to our next issue…
The Defense of Planned Parenthood
The Washington Post contributor’s biggest issue with Trump’s decision is that it hinders scientific advancement “for no reason” – just to “gratify anti-abortion activists who object to the use of tissue from elective abortions in taxpayer-funded research.” I mean… yeah, that’s pretty much it right there. Though he says it like it’s a small thing, instead of the gargantuan conscience rights/ethical issue that it is.
He goes on to pen this little gem:
This article in the Washington Post was published literally last week, so, well after the proceedings of Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress during which Planned Parenthood never refuted their trafficking in fetal bodies. Not once, during months in the courtroom. Perhaps the sticky little issue of their being filmed admitting the crime kept them from perjuring:
All video evidence of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue trafficking can be found on the Center for Medical Progress’s website (which was taken by pro-life undercover citizen journalists). Again, during Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against CMP, they never denied a single thing from these videos. They only sought damages for their hurt feelings.
The author goes on to write:
“But that’s a cynical view that doesn’t stand up to the facts and common sense. No woman is going to make the heart-wrenching decision to have an abortion because it might advance medical research. And given the law, no health-care practitioner has a financial incentive to perform the procedure to sell the tissue to researchers.”
Acknowledging that there is a financial motive behind abortion is not a “cynical view.” Abortion is by far the most profitable “service” carried out by Planned Parenthood. With every annual report they release, the same trend is observed: abortions are up, profits are up, and all other services are down. The abortion industry is a business, and the author’s beloved “common sense” would dictate that businesses are driven by profit. So accepting that abortion companies do everything they can to make the most money off their “product” is pretty aligned with common sense.
Planned Parenthood is literally under federal investigation for profiting off fetal tissue sale to researchers. There is no evidence to suggest that they respect the law since they are caught breaking it all the time.
Perhaps the most perplexing thesis included here is the author’s defense of scientists. He describes them as simple, noble beings who only seek the good of the world. The view that scientists are exclusively pure and noble is naive. They are just as human as the rest of us. He should maybe ask a Holocaust survivor what good those “scientists” did for the world by experimenting on prisoners, or maybe a patient at a mental institution in the 1900s about how scientists’ shock therapy, patient cages, or hack-job lobotomies worked out for them.
Abortion Experiments in Mexico
Women in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico were recently paid $1,400 to have their ovaries hyperstimulated to release many more eggs than natural. They were then artificially inseminated and the resulting embryos were “removed.” These embryos were then, supposedly, implanted in other women or frozen. Where do we even begin on this one?
The Culture of Death Degrades Women
Let’s start with the commodification of women. Presumably, this research study was not pleasant. Not something a person would do if they didn’t desperately need the $1,400. Poverty is a real problem in Puerto Vallarta. It doesn’t take a genius to hypothesize about what happened here.
So these (likely vulnerable) women were exploited, used as lab rats, and subjected to something possibly dangerous and likely to affect future fertility. Oh, but the researchers said it was ethical because the women were informed of the risks.
Multiple Types of Abortions Per Woman
These participants conceived many embryos at one time during the study. According to the original NPR article, as many as possible were “flushed out” for further experimentation. But for those that implanted or otherwise stayed put (you know, like nature intends), these poor women were subjected to surgical or chemical abortions when the “flushing out” didn’t go as planned.
You Can Call It “Research”… But It’s Still Eugenics
This study created human life for the sole purpose of experimenting on it. VERY WRONG. Embryos were “quality tested,” meaning screened for abnormalities and quite possibly sex-selected. Humanity just does not learn. Killing certain human beings based on any external quality (health condition, gender, age, race, sexuality, etc) will never be okay.