Skip to comments.Harvesting Fetal Body Parts
Posted on 12/22/2004 11:32:00 AM PST by Calpernia
Harvesting Fetal Body Parts
By Kelly Patricia O'Meara
[Reprinted with permission of Insight. Copyright 1999 New World Communication, Inc. All rights reserved.]
The distribution of fetal body parts to scientists is a million-dollar industry. Researchers claim it's a necessary evil, but others fear it may encourage some grim abuses.
Scientists depend on human body parts for research they believe may yield breakthroughs in a number of diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, that affect millions of people. But the public largely is unaware of the way the laundry list of body parts for scientific research is filled. Those who oppose using human flesh for research wonder if knowing the gruesome details would make a difference to those who support the practice.
Actual requests for body parts such as a "whole intact leg, including the entire hip joint," come with special instructions that the body be dissected by "cutting through symphysis pubis (pubic bone) and include whole illium." Additionally, a request may specify the speed at which the dissection must occur - - in this instance, that the researcher would like the body part "to be removed from the cadaver within 10 minutes." Finally, the scientists specify whether "abnormalities" are permitted and under what conditions a body part will be shipped (such as in wet or dry ice) and by what mode of transportation (usually one of the well-known overnight-delivery services).
Of more than 50 such requests, or "protocols," submitted by scientists and reviewed for this article, none involved a deceased person more than 24 weeks old - - three weeks older than a fetus who could survive outside the womb. The "whole intact leg" protocol described previously was requested by a scientist who needed four to six "specimens (leg and hip joints) per shipment" from aborted fetuses 22 to 24 weeks old. Because the request called for the dissection to occur within 10 minutes of death, it is not difficult to imagine the required precision and speed of the dissection procedure occurring in a side room of an abortion clinic.
The men and women who perform these tasks are called " technicians" and are employed by companies that retrieve body parts, also known as "harvesters," such as the Anatomic Gift Foundation of Laurel, Md., and Opening Lines, headquartered in West Frankfort, Ill. These companies act as middlemen of sorts between the abortion clinic and the scientist.
Because the sale of human tissue or body parts is prohibited by federal law, the traffickers have worked out an arrangement to expedite the process from which they all benefit and still remain within current interpretations of the law. For instance, the harvesters receive the fetal material as a " donation" from the abortion clinic. In return, the clinic is paid a "site fee" for rental of lab space where technicians, employed by the harvesters, perform as many dissections as necessary to fill researcher manifests. The harvesters then "donate" the body parts to the researchers and, rather than pay the harvesters for the actual body parts, "donate" the cost of the retrieval (a service) via a formal price list.
The fiction is that under this mutually acceptable agreement, no laws are broken: No body parts from aborted fetuses are sold. In nearly all cases, the entire fetus is not needed. Rather, the fetus is dissected and the parts shipped to either the private corporation, university, or government agency where the research is being conducted. Any remaining skin, tissue, bones, or organs are ground up in the sink disposal or incinerated.
Brenda Bardsley, vice president of the Anatomic Gift Foundation, or AGF, tells Insight, "It's sad, but maybe it makes it [abortion] easier for us knowing that something good will come out of it." She adds, "We're doing our best in an unpleasant situation." Bardsley says the AGF's fetal-tissue retrieval accounts for "less than 10 percent of the company's business" and there are strict rules controlling when and under what conditions a technician may perform the procedures. "The decision to go ahead with the abortion," says Bardsley, "must be made before the woman is approached about donation, and we don't get access to the cadaver until the physician has firmly established death." Nearly 75 percent of the women who choose abortion agree to donate the fetal tissue, she says.
As part of AGF's services, it also runs serology (blood tests) on women who have elected to have an abortion and requires that the medical director of the clinic advise such women if they are shown by the tests to have other medical conditions such as AIDS, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis.
Along with its fetal-tissue harvesting, AGF also handles adult tissue. According to Bardsley, this is their main business, and they handle "only about five to 10 fetal-tissue procedures a week from two different clinics." AGF charges a flat fee of as much as $280 per specimen or individual body part. According to tax records provided to Insight by Bardsley, AGF's gross income has increased from a little more than $180,000 in 1994 to $2 million in 1998.
While AGF charges for "services" per specimen, competitor Opening Lines, a company that handles only fetal tissue, was unavailable for comment. According to a fee schedule provided to the pro-life organization Life Dynamics Inc., of Denton, Texas, Opening Lines does not confuse its customers by using the word " specimen" but openly lists charges by the body part. For instance, it may charge as little as $150 for the retrieval of a liver or $500 for a trunk (with or without limbs); a spinal cord goes for $325.
The sale of "services" in the acquisition of body parts exploded after President Clinton signed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, effectively lifting the moratorium on federally funded research involving transplantation of fetal tissue from spontaneous or induced abortions. The taxpayer-funded legislation specifically allows for "research on the transplantation of human fetal tissue for therapeutic purposes." Since then, a rare breed of entrepreneurs have battled for a foothold in the newly created market of organ harvesting.
Company pamphlets and paraphernalia from Opening Lines, for example, boast that it is their "goal to offer you and your staff the highest quality, most affordable and freshest tissue prepared to your specifications and delivered in the quantities you need when you need it." Their advertisements add such sales puffery as: "Our specimens vary widely in range including but not limited to those listed below: liver, spleen, pancreas, intestines, kidney, brain, lungs and heart block, spinal column and many more with appropriate discounts that apply if specimen is significantly fragmented." A veritable smorgasbord of human body parts is on the menu, and the researcher need only order what he or she wants.
How profitable is all of this? The consulting firm of Frost and Sullivan recently reported that "the worldwide market for cell lines and tissue cultures brought in nearly $428 million in corporate revenues in 1996. It further predicts that between now and 2003, the market will grow at an average annual rate of 13.5 percent and, by 2002, will be worth nearly $1 billion." That does not include profits from patents and products that come from tissue research.
The National Institutes of Health provides nearly $19 million in grants and awards for fetal-tissue research, an amount that many in the scientific community consider budget dust compared with the $15.6 billion total 1999 appropriations. Of the $19 million, $2 million goes directly to research that is connected with fetal-tissue transplantation.
Many pro-life advocates object to the use of taxpayer funds for fetal-tissue research. For instance, they say that scientists might become dependent on such tissue simply because of the availability of it. Furthermore, they say, because women who have made a decision to undergo an abortion now may donate their fetus for research, the social, ethical, and moral stigma attached to the act is reduced because the patients believe they ultimately are doing something good.
Supply and demand are factors. Robert Orr, a physician and director of clinical ethics at Loma Linda Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif., says he understands the use of spontaneously aborted fetuses for research purposes, but "policymakers and researchers are looking at aborted fetuses because there is such a large supply. The basic problem is that we're at the cutting edge of research. We have something that looks good on paper - - something that may be very important to humanity. Before we go any further and rush into something, we need to step back and take a second look."
Orr notes the problem of intention: "If a woman thinks that something good is coming out of the abortion, it makes it easier for her to make the decision. It's theoretically impossible to separate the moral issue from the scientific issue."
Similar sentiments are voiced by Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican who is a staunch pro-life advocate. Hyde tells Insight: "I deplore any medical procedure that treats human beings as chattel, as a subject fit for harvesting. The humanity of every fetus should be respected and treated with dignity and not like a laboratory animal." The fact remains, though, that it's legal, and 1.5 million abortions are performed every year in the United States.
It's legal, and tens of thousands of body parts from aborted babies are used in scientific research. It's true, too, that our laws provide no human-being status to an unborn baby. But despite this, unborn babies are considered human for the purpose of scientific experimentation." Suzanne Rini, author of Beyond Abortion, says this is an issue "that never ceases to shock me. Fetal-tissue harvesting is a very lucrative industry, and just a small percentage of research could yield huge profits. Billions are involved in fetal-tissue research and harvesting, and the federal government participates in it in a big way. But it's also very shielded, and one has to try to understand the everydayness of it - - the foundational step in the process of abortion and fetal harvesting."
What are the ethics of this? Rini laughs dryly. "If they're doing it, there is no ethics."
By Susan Wills
Disposing of fetal remains poses a perennial challenge to abortion clinics. The last thing owners want is dumpsters filled with mangled bodies that look all too human. Solutions to the disposal dilemma run the gamut from the truly repulsive to ... the unbelievably repulsive.
There is, for example, Mayfair Women's Clinic in Aurora, Colorado, where former owner-operator Dr. James J. Parks, M.D., reached what one had thought was the nadir of disposal practices: grinding buckets full of 15 to 22 weeks' gestation babies through a hand-cranked, old-fashioned meat grinder until they took the consistency of "multiple tubes of pink toothpaste," able to be flushed down sink drains. (Source: Affidavit of Curtis E. Stover, M.D., dated June 15, 1992, corroborated in depositions of Dr. Parks and clinic staff.)
However, Mayfair Women's Clinic is once again at ground zero for controversy over its disposal practices because now, it seems, the children aborted there are no longer "unwanted." They are, in fact, very much wanted by one of about five U.S. organizations which provide fetal organs and tissues to researchers.
According to World magazine, Mayfair is under contract with an intermediary called Anatomic Gift Foundation (AGF), headquartered in Laurel, Maryland, as a source and site for the harvesting and preparation of baby body parts for shipment to researchers.
An article in World (Lynn Vincent, "The Harvest of Abortion," Oct. 23, 1999, found at http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/10-23-99/cover_1.asp ), illustrates the gruesomeness of the daily grind of AGF "technician" Ms. Ying Bei Wang, who works on-site at Mayfair harvesting fetal body parts:
As Monday morning sunshine spills across the high plains of Aurora, Colo., and a new work week begins, fresh career challenges await Ms. Ying Bei Wang. On Monday, for example, she might scalpel her way through the brain stem of an aborted 24-week pre-born child, pluck the brain from the baby's peach-sized head with forceps, and plop it into wet ice for later shipment. On Tuesday, she might carefully slice away the delicate tissue that secures a dead child's eyes in its skull, and extract them whole. Ms. Ying knows her employer's clients prefer the eyes of dead babies to be whole. One once requested to receive 4 to 10 per day.
The following article--and several other stories appearing in, for example, Insight (reprinted with permission in NRL News, October 12, 1999), The American Enterprise, and Alberta Report--relies heavily on evidence uncovered in a Life Dynamics, Inc. (LDI), into unsavory and possibly illegal practices in fetal tissue trafficking by AGF and others, which has attracted not only the attention of the media, but also that of Congress. (See story, page 12).
A further examination of the evidence accumulated, conversations with several key figures and experts, and documented facts about fetal tissue procurement and research published in the last decade raise many serious concerns.
For example, are abortionists who participate in tissue and organ "donation" altering procedures to best accomplish retrieval of the desired "fresh" organs, without regard to what is safest for the mother?
Are procedures ever delayed (at greater risk to the mother) to obtain more fully developed (thus usually more valuable) organs?
To what extent is the profit motive driving this business (despite a federal law that supposedly restricts profiteering in organs)?
Is the need for "fresh" and intact specimens being met, in some cases, by partial or complete delivery of live premature infants?
Can a mother ever properly consent to the donation of all or part of a child she has chosen to abort?
Are current practices for obtaining "consent" to donate informed, unpressured, and solicited apart from consent to the abortion or subsequent to the abortion?
Will published claims of potential research benefits from the use of aborted babies become a significant, or even a deciding, factor among women conflicted over the abortion decision?
Will the research demand for a steady supply of baby body parts "legitimize" abortion and further degrade the dignity of human life?
How big is the current and anticipated demand?
Will continued research using fetal organs and tissues outpace the supply available in the U.S., driving up demand in developing countries where the economic pressures on the world's poorest populations could lead to even greater exploitation of their bodies and their children?
Specifically, in light of the following passage from the October 23 edition of World magazine, what deficiencies in current law, or the enforcement thereof, need to be corrected?
Money paid by fetal-tissue providers to abortion clinics is termed a "site fee," and does not, Mr. [Brent] Bardsley [AGF executive director] maintains, pay for baby parts harvested. Instead the fee compensates clinics for allowing technicians like Ms. Ying to work on-site retrieving and dissecting dead babies - - sort of a Frankensteinian sublet.
"It's clearly a fee-for-space arrangement," says Mr. Bardsley. "We occupy a portion of their laboratory, use their clinic supplies, have a phone line installed. The site fee offsets the use of clinic supplies that we use in tissue procurement."
Before looking into these concerns, here is a precis of some of the evidence that has surfaced:
(1) a videotaped conversation with "Kelly" (a pseudonym) who claims to have been on the AGF payroll, working inside an unidentified abortion clinic, performing duties similar to AGF technician's Ms. Ying;
(2) excerpts of recorded telephone conversations allegedly with Mrs. Brenda Bardsley (AGF president and co-founder with her husband James Bardsley) and with Dr. Miles Jones, founder and president of AGF competitor Opening Lines (OL), late of West Frankfort, Illinois;
(3) a collection of about 50 "protocols" or purchase orders from medical researchers which list the fetal organs and tissues needed, frequency needed, and the details of retrieval, preparation for shipment, and delivery;
(4) copies of AGF's and OL's
fee-for-services schedules; and
(5) OL's aggressively (some might say ghoulishly) cheerful marketing brochure, explaining to prospective parts suppliers in the abortion industry "HOW YOU CAN TURN YOUR PATIENT'S DECISION INTO SOMETHING WONDERFUL."
Kelly's descriptions of her job and the business of AGF seem credible and are corroborated on some points in the protocols. Some of them stipulate that organ retrieval must be accomplished within 10 to 20 minutes of the cessation of blood circulation. This makes it reasonable to assume that some methods of "abortion" are preferred over others.
She also describes the process of ruling out children with congenital anomalies or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases to satisfy the requests for perfect tissue often spelled out in the protocols.
Kelly also gives an eyewitness account of an abortionist drowning newly delivered, still-living twins (at 24 weeks' gestational age) after she refused to begin harvesting their organs before they were dead. She referred to other children brought for dissection while their hearts were still beating and others, up to 30 weeks' gestation, who were killed after full delivery. However, there is no independent proof that these episodes occurred.
The recorded telephone conversation with Mrs. Bardsley was apparently genuine (although she maintains that some of her answers were misunderstood) and discusses how the system of fetal purchasing works with AGF paying a "site fee" for the use of space inside a source clinic, as well as a flat fee for gross dissection, preparation of fetal specimens (based on trimester gestational age), and serology testing and how to avoid problems in overnight shipping by using intentionally vague descriptions of contents.
She confirmed these details in a conversation with NRL News. They are consistent with the printed fee schedule, as well as with past statements by her husband which had been reported by the media.
Many of the recorded comments allegedly made by Dr. Miles Jones to an investigator, whom he assumed was a potential research client, relate to Opening Lines's fee schedule, financial arrangements with abortion clinics, and Jones's aggressive search for sources of fetal organs and tissue in Mexico and Canada. The conversation is also consistent with OL's brochure and minutely detailed fee schedule ranging from, on the low end, spleens, ears, and eyes for as little as $50 ("40% discount for single eye"), to the pricey gonads for $550, "Intact trunk (with/without limbs)" for $500, "Intact embryonic cadaver (>8 weeks)" for $600, and a "Brain (>8 weeks)" for $999, but "30% discount if significantly fragmented."
Dr. Jones is currently unreachable. Soon after The Daily American, the local paper in West Frankfort, Illinois (where Opening Lines was headquartered), devoted a banner headline and front-page treatment to his business (on September 10, 1999), Dr. Jones disappeared, OL phone lines were disconnected, and the doors padlocked.
An employee of OL, who was a longtime resident of the small town, also left, as did the managing editor of The Daily American (no forwarding number on his residential phone). Apparently, almost the entire editorial staff left as well. In an interview, the new editor, only three weeks on the job, claims to have no information about any of them.
According to sources, Dr. Jones has sent letters to clients and former clients soliciting their continued patronage at a new location.
Just how bizarre the uses of baby parts can be is illustrated by this passage from the aforementioned World magazine article:
For example, R. Paul Johnson from Massachusetts's New England Regional Primate Research Center requested second-trimester fetal livers. His 1995 protocol notes that the livers will be used ultimately for "primate implantation," including the "creation of human-monkey chimeras." In biology, a chimera is an organism created by the grafting or mutation of two genetically different cell types.
Additional New Details Add to Picture
By making a number of telephone calls and by conducting a vigorous search on the Internet, new information of great interest was uncovered.
ITEM 1: A copy of a seven-page "Application and Agreement for Human Tissue Research/ Educa-tion," dated November 10, 1998, between Anatomic Gift Foundation and Gary J. Miller, professor of pathology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. For his research in human prostate cancer, Dr. Miller ordered "1st and 2nd trimester prostates" in the quantity of "approximately 12 from each trimester per year."
Under "Condition of Tissue Requested," Dr. Miller specified, "To be removed and prepared within 5 minutes ... after circulation has stopped." Other specifications state that they are to be "preserved on wet ice," "picked up immediately by applicant," have "low risk no IV drug abuse or known sexually transmitted diseases," and no prescription medications used by "donor" mother. The contract is signed both by Dr. Miller and, for the Regents of the University of Colorado, by "Sharon Frazier, Director of Purchasing," (emphasis added).
The AGF satellite office is just down the road from Dr. Miller.
ITEM 2: A person who identified herself as AGF President Brenda Bardsley, reached by phone at the AGF office in White Oak, Georgia, and a man who said he was 13-year employee Joe Paparo (who works out of AGF's Laurel, Maryland, office) said they were eager to set the record straight.
Both estimate that about 10% of AGF's current business involves fetal tissue, the balance being in adult organ donation. They claim to have been using only two abortion clinics as sources for some time - - the Mayfair Women's Center and an unnamed clinic in Kansas, but they now use only Mayfair. They both asserted that AGF plans to phase that operation out and do only adult organ donation.
AGF's annual revenues have climbed to $2 million in 1998 from $180,000 in 1994. Mrs. Bardsley attributes the windfall to expansion of their adult organ donation business. Both insist that AGF's dealings in fetal tissue are a break-even proposition at best.
They both explained that a significant decline in their fetal tissue business followed the firing of a former "technician" who, they said, left with AGF's client list and expertise. In the past few months, several researchers who had been longtime customers of AGF switched over to OL. Mrs. Bardsley said they had told her that OL supplies their needs much more consistently.
Mrs. Bardsley takes this to mean that OL has secured many sources for organs and tissues from second-trimester abortions. The World article quotes an estimate by Dr. Jones that OL's parent company, Consultative and Diagnostic Path-ology, "processes an average of 1,500 fetal-tissue cases per day" - - a figure also found in OL's own brochure.
ITEM 3: Alan G. Fantel, Ph.D., of the University of Washington (Seattle) Department of Pediatrics and Central Laboratory for Human Embryology is listed on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) web site as the contact person in charge of the government's clearinghouse for "human embryonic and fetal tissues." Since the fetal tissue procurement story broke, Dr. Fantel has been inundated with inquiries about the nature of NIH involvement.
The clearinghouse is still operating, but business has dropped to only about 10-15 embryos or fetuses per week. Dr. Frankel's office has a grant from NIH to accept tissues from hospitals and abortion clinics and to distribute tissues to grant-funded sites (excluding for-profits, such as pharmaceutical companies).
Dr. Fantel explained that there is a non-profit corporation in California that is "supplying pharmaceutical companies" with fetal organs and tissues. Over the past 35 years, the Central Laboratory for Human Embryology (CLHE) has supplied several hundred laboratories.
Many researchers now, however, are seeking older fetuses and few of these are being sent to CLHE. Those they get, he said, are "completely fragmented. Almost everything into the 2nd trimester have tissues that are macerated from potassium chloride."
CLHE business may have been redirected to suppliers like Opening Lines, whose brochure promises "a convenient and efficient way for researchers to receive fetal tissue without a lot of bureaucracy" (emphasis added).
Opening Lines' sales may account in part for the declining business fortunes of two major players in the fetal tissue supply field--Anatomic Gift Foundation and the Central Laboratory for Human Embryology. But the market demand seems to be growing.
One industry analyst points to a projected annual growth of 13.5% in the demand for fetal tissue and cell lines. The consulting firm of Frost and Sullivan put corporate revenues in 1996 from the global market at $428 million and estimated that they'll reach $1 billion annually by 2002.
ITEM 4: The identity of other baby body parts wholesalers has long puzzled outsiders. Apparently one is Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). A woman who identified herself as Linda K. Tracy, the founder and president of ABR, conceded that her company acts as an intermediary in the acquisition of fetal organs and tissues from abortion sites and delivery to researchers.
Beyond that, Ms. Tracy refused to elaborate on the business. All the "hoopla," she said, is because of the abortion issue - - people "think donations of fetal tissue will encourage abortion, as if women made up their minds on that basis." She declined further invitations to comment, which made it impossible for us to ask her to explain how/whether ABR's practices comport with federal law.
There remaining points should be briefly addressed. First, might abortionists alter the way they do abortions to obtain fresh tissue even to the detriment of the women undergoing the abortion? It's surely not unthinkable.
Reported procedures performed in Sweden (O. Lindval and A. Bjorkland) and Mexico (I. Madrazo et al. in Archives of Neurology 47, 1281-2) describe precisely how women were given abortions under general anesthesia rather than local, and with techniques that took three to four times longer than usual. At least in the case of the Swedish team, the extraction of fetal brain tissue was the event that killed the then-living child in utero. A Florida doctor (who wished to remain anonymous) has discussed an abortion procedure he uses to obtain the best and freshest tissue. It takes four to five times longer to perform than the normal vacuum aspiration, increasing the likelihood of pain, discomfort, and infection.
Dr. Kathi Aultman, who emerged in recent years as an articulate and tireless opponent of partial-birth abortion, explained that her decision to speak out was prompted by a fear that the demand for fetal tissue would push more and more abortion doctors into using this far riskier procedure.
Second, could the knowledge that one's aborted child might allegedly "further research to find a cure for a debilitating disease" influence a woman's decision to abort and therefore increase the number of abortions? Certainly, that would rarely be the primary reason why a woman would choose to abort her child.
But a 1995 Canadian study found that 17% of respondents who said they might consider having an abortion if pregnant agreed that they would be more likely to have an abortion if the tissue of their aborted child could be used for fetal transplant research. (D.K. Martin et al., "Fetal Tissue Transplantation and Abortion Decisions: A Survey of Urban Women," Canadian Medical Association Journal, Sept. 1, 1995, p. 545.)
Lastly, in The Human Body Shop, [Harper San Francisco, 1993), author Andrew Kimbrell offers evidence of a vast and growing worldwide demand for adult and fetal organs, particularly for transplantation. It is easy to imagine a scenario where the number of abortions in the U.S. can no longer supply the needs of researchers.
This would further drive up demand for tissue and organs from impoverished developing countries. "Pro-choice" feminist researcher Janice Raymond cites this possibility as a reason to prohibit fetal tissue research.
An article in World (Lynn Vincent, "The Harvest of Abortion," Oct. 23, 1999, found at http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/10-23-99/cover_1.asp ), illustrates the gruesomeness of the daily grind of AGF "technician" Ms. Ying Bei Wang, who works on-site at Mayfair harvesting fetal body parts:
About Anatomic Gift Foundation (AGF), headquartered in Laurel, Maryland
ABC NEWS "20/20" INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED TRAFFICKING IN FETAL TISSUE FINDS COMPANIES THAT APPEAR TO BE PROFITING FROM SELLING HUMAN TISSUE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH
A three-month "20/20" hidden-camera investigation has uncovered an industry in which tissue and organs from aborted fetuses, donated to help medical research, are being marketed for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.
"20/20" has investigated one businessman whose company issued a price list charging what many call exorbitant prices for fetal tissue. In addition, ABC News "20/20" chief correspondent Chris Wallace has an exclusive interview with a whistle-blower who says two tissue retrieval companies he worked for went so far as to, on some occasions, encourage him to take fetal tissue obtained from women who had not consented to donate their fetuses to medical research. The report will air on "20/20 Wednesday," March 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
Many say that fetal tissue is vital in scientific research that may provide dramatic medical breakthroughs, and federal law permits the donation of tissue from aborted fetuses for that purpose. But the law says companies that transport fetal tissue to medical research labs may only charge a reasonable fee to recover costs of collecting and shipping human tissue. "20/20's" investigation found some companies are charging high fees -- fees that critics say are not based on recovering costs; for example, the price list for one company, Opening Lines, includes listings of $325 for a spinal cord, $550 for a reproductive organ, $999 for a brain.
How are these prices determined? One "20/20" producer went undercover as a potential investor to meet Dr. Miles Jones, a Missouri pathologist whose company, Opening Lines, obtains fetal tissue from clinics and ships it to research labs. "It's market force," Dr. Jones told the producer about how he sets his prices. "It's what you can sell it for." He says he hopes to run his own abortion clinic in Mexico where he says he could get a greater supply of fetal tissue by offering cheaper abortions: "If you control the flow -- it's probably the equivalent of the invention of the assembly line."
"That's trading in body parts. There's no doubt about it," said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics.
Representative Thomas Bliley (R-VA), who chairs the United States House Commerce Committee, says his committee is now investigating four companies after finding evidence they may be selling tissue for a profit. He says the committee is interested in ensuring that people transporting fetal tissue only recover their legitimate costs. "It appears that it's more than that. That it comes down to trafficking in tissue parts," he tells Mr. Wallace. Rep. Bliley's committee expects to hold hearings on this issue later this week. [Note: The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and the Environment has scheduled a hearing on Thursday, March 9, at 2 p.m., on the subject, "Fetal Tissue: Is It Being Bought and Sold in Violation of Federal Law?"]
The issue has outraged both pro-life and pro-choice advocates. "Where there is wrongdoing, it should be prosecuted and the people who are doing that kind of thing should be brought to justice," said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood.
An anti- anti-abortion editorial
In 1999 evidence came to light that abortionists were selling body parts from aborted babies for use in medical research, transplants, or whatever other uses one might have.
An editorial has been published in various newspapers around the country titled, "Extremists trafficking in fetal remains", by Lynn Morgan, who is described as a professor of anthropology. If I may summarize, she says that there is really no issue here because, first, she doubts that such sales are really taking place, and second, even if they are, such sales are already illegal, so there is nothing to debate. Thus, she concludes, this is just an effort by "anti-abortion zealots" to "exploit fetal remains for propaganda purposes".
Her point is apparently to spin a little irony: pro-lifers accuse abortionists of profitting from the sale of baby parts (in cash), but in reality it is the pro-lifers who are profitting from it (in propaganda value). But along the way, her logic is a bit faulty.
Are abortionists selling unborn baby's body parts?
Life Dynamics, the organization that has done the most to bring this affair to light, has accumulated an enormous amount of documentary evidence to substantiate their charges. I have before me a collection of over 60 papers that they have obtained that document sales of fetal body pars. Most of these are matter-of-fact descriptions of body parts wanted with descriptions of how they are to be prepared and shipped. Several helpfully give a Federal Express account number that can be billed for the shipping charges. Perhaps the most chilling is a price list from a company called "Opening Lines", that simply lists body parts and prices, like "Livers ... $150", "Ears ... $75", "Eyes ... $75", "Brain ... $999", etc, with a conventional disclaimer at the bottom, "Prices in effect through December 31, 1999". Furthermore, they even found someone who had been involved in some of these transactions and who now had a change of heart and was willing to speak out about it.
Dismissing the evidence
Against this, Ms Morgan offers the curious rebuttal that all this evidence should be ignored because "all the information cited was provided by an anti-abortion outfit called Life Dynamics", and that Life Dynamics "trains anti-abortion activists and devises new strategies to turn the public against abortion". Apparently we are supposed to conclude that because this information was publicized by an organization that opposes abortion, that therefore the evidence can simply be dismissed. But seriously now: Would we really expect a pro-abortion organization to publicize information that would embarass themselves? Who else would publish information damaging to the abortion industry except someone who opposed abortion? Even if someone who was truly undecided on the issue came out with such information, I can't help but wonder if Ms Morgan would claim that the very fact that they had publicized it proved that they were anti-abortion and therefore biased. Will Ms Morgan insist that the same standard be applied in evaluating information about other controversial issues? If a civil rights group publicizes information about incidents of discrimination, should their evidence be ignored because they are a civil rights group and therefore "biased"? Should we refuse to believe any evidence about racist acts unless it is vouched for by the Ku Klux Klan? Really now.
Sure, I readily concede that the fact that someone has a strong opinion about an issue should lead us to demand evidence to back up their claims, and not just take their word for it. If, say, the National Banana Growers Association were to claim that eating bananas cures cancer, I would surely take one look at the claim, another look at the name, and ask to see some evidence before I simply accepted this. But while it would be naive to simply believe such a claim without seeing any evidence, it would be equally foolish to reject such a claim without looking at the evidence just because the people giving it are not neutral observers. Life Dynamics was apparently well aware of this, because they went to considerable efforts to accumulate a pile of documentary evidence and eye-witness testimony. (Before I start getting angry responses from banana growers that I am maligning their industry, let me hasten to clarify that I just invented this as a hypothetical example.)
By the way, the bio of Ms Morgan mentions that she edited a book about abortion. Was this book pro-abortion? If so, does this mean that anything she writes about abortion should be likewise ignored, because she too is "biased"?
Morgan's only real response to the evidence itself is this:
First, she asks, "Why did the one technician interviewed ... tell her story to Life Dynamics but not to the mainstream media?" But surely the obvious reply is that the mainstream media were not interested in covering this story. For example, the paper in which I saw this editorial, the Dayton Daily News, knew about this issue for many months. Even if they heard about it nowhere else, I know that Dayton Right to Life showed them the documentary evidence and urged them to cover the story. They apparently declined to do so. To the best of my knowledge, the first time they mentioned it was when they printed this editorial claiming that the whole story was pretty much fabricated. I wonder if this didn't puzzle their readers: surely most of them didn't know there was a story until the paper "explained" that there wasn't. Of course the Dayton Daily News was not the only media outlet to bury the story: most of the national media said absolutely nothing about it either.
Second, she writes that Life Dynamics "named two companies allegedly engaged in illegal trafficking, but both had packed up and disconnected their phones before reporters or legislators could talk to them. The evidence is shaky at best." I must admit that I find this line of reasoning absolutely baffling. Two companies are accused of engaging in illegal activities. Before the media can interview them or the authorities can investigate, they pack up and leave town. And Ms Morgan therefore concludes that this is proof that they are innocent and the charges are baseless?? Surely if they did nothing wrong, or if it was even debatable, they would have stuck around and given statements to the press about how innocent they were, maybe even talked about bringing law suits for libel. Suppose it had been the other way around: suppose Life Dynamics and made all these accusations, and then when reporters showed up to interview them, they found the office abandoned and everyone disappeared. Would this be taken as proof that their charges were true?
Why Congress shouldn't be holding hearings
Finally, Ms Morgan says that the whole subject is irrelevant because selling body parts is already illegal. She specifically ridicules the idea of Congress holding hearings on the subject, saying that there is nothing to discuss: if anyone is really doing this, they should simply be prosecuted. Well, I'd be the last to insist that Congressional hearings do a lot to solve any problem, but it is not at all clear why the fact that something is illegal makes hearings on the subject irrelevant. Congress routinely holds hearings on the drug problem, on racketeering, on official corruption, on all sorts of things that are illegal. Presumably the goal of these hearings is not to decide whether the thing should be made illegal, but rather to investigate questions like "Are the existing laws working?" or "What can be done to make the laws more effective?".
In this case, there is plenty of evidence that body parts are being bought and sold despite the laws against it. There are many questions that it is quite legitimate for Congress to investigate: First, of course, would be, Are the charges true? If they are, is this a widespread problem, or just a couple of isolated incidents? Are law enforcement authorities equipped to handle the problem, or should something be done to improve enforcement? Etc.
One might also note that in this case there was a very specific legal question to be discussed: It is illegal to sell human body parts, but there is no law against charging for services related to the handling of body parts. For example, if you donate a kidney for transplant, it is illegal for the recipient (or anyone else) to give you money for your kidney. But there is no law against the doctor charging for his services in performing the transplant, or against a shipping company receiving money to transport the kidney from the hospital where it is removed from you to the hospital where it is transplanted into the other person, etc. Is this a loophole? Some abortionists defended themselves by claiming that they were not selling body parts, but rather selling their services in "harvesting" and preparing these body parts.
Why is it effective propaganda?
Ms Morgan tries to make pro-lifers the villians of the story with the claim that they are trying to use the sale of the body parts of unborn babies for "propaganda". Now let's think about this for a moment. How can she think this has such great propaganda value for pro-lifers, unless she implicitly concedes that, if in fact the charges are true, that this is something outrageous and offensive? And what would make it outageous and offensive, unless we are talking about killing human beings and selling their body parts for money? If this is just a "glob of tissue" as pro-abortionists have been insisting for decades, how would there be any propaganda value in revealing that it is being bought and sold? If a reporter came out with an "exposé" revealing that women were being paid to donate their hair to make wigs, would anyone be excited about this? Could it be used as propaganda by an "anti-wig" or "pro-hair" movement? It's hard to imagine. Why not? Because hair is just a part of a woman's body and she is not harmed by selling some of it. Any attempt to make a scandal out of this would leave people asking, So what?
Ms Morgan's fear that pro-lifers will use the sale of fetal body parts for propaganda must make us wonder: Does Ms Morgan herself believe that fetuses are, in fact, babies, and that cutting them up and selling them for parts is something ... disreputable? Perhaps she is afraid that people who hear about this will conclude that an unborn child is not just a "part of his mother's body". After all, if there was any question about that before, the fact that abortionists routinely talked -- among themselves -- about his "eyes", "liver", "brain", and so on clearly prove that this is not just a "glob of tissue". Globs of tissue do not have body parts that can be sold. Living creaturess do. And killing a human being so that you can sell his body parts for profit is simply wrong, regardless of how old he is.
ANATOMY OF A DEBACLE
By Lynn Vincent
Source: World Magazine
April 1, 2000 Volume 15 Number 13
In Congress, the gruesome trade of baby body parts was supposed to be on trial; so why was the whistleblower placed on the defensive, his credibility in tatters?
By the time his telephone rang on Wednesday, March 8, Dean Alberty was already tortured with anxiety. Mr. Alberty, who from 1995 to 1997 had worked as a "tissue procurement technician" for a company called Anatomic Gift Foundation, was set to testify before Congress the following day. The topic: the illegal trade in body parts of aborted babies. As he envisioned the approaching hearing, he imagined an imposing semicircle of federal legislators staring down at him from behind microphones, a packed gallery, popping flashbulbs, and whirring cameras.
Mr. Alberty's mounting tension would have morphed instantly into black fear had he known he was walking into an ambush.
Congress had called the March 9 hearing in response to evidence of an illegal trade in fetal tissue presented by the pro-life activist group Life Dynamics, as well as corroborating independent reports by several news outlets, including WORLD (Oct. 23, 1999). Mr. Alberty, 34, first made news as the informant "Kelly," who in 1997 came to Life Dynamics with horrific stories of the for-profit distribution of baby brains, limbs, eyes, and organs by fetal tissue- brokers to medical researchers. (The group disguised Mr. Alberty as a woman to protect his identity.)
From 1997 through most of 1999, Mr. Alberty worked undercover, both in the Kansas Mid-Missouri Planned Parenthood abortion clinic and for Miles Jones, a fetal-tissue profiteer, gathering information on the new trade in human remains. But finally, his life had come down to this hearing. The next day, Mr. Alberty, who lives in Lee's Summit, Mo., would step forward to, in his words, "do the right thing."
But the right thing, it turned out, went dreadfully wrong. At the hearing, which was held by the House Subcommittee on Health and Environment, three witnesses besides Mr. Alberty were scheduled to testify: Lynn Fredericks, a former Planned Parenthood vice president who had compiled records of what she believed was a financially improper relationship between suspected baby-parts brokerage Anatomic Gift Foundation (AGF) and Kansas Mid-Missouri Planned Parenthood; AGF president James Bardsley; and Opening Lines' Dr. Jones, a Missouri pathologist who had boasted of his lucrative baby body-parts business on ABC's 20/20 only the night before.
The subcommittee was to consider a narrow question: Is fetal tissue being bought and sold in violation of federal law? But that question received scant attention during seven hours of testimony-particularly since neither Mr. Bardsley nor Dr. Jones showed up. Instead, a proceeding that should have blown the baby body-parts industry wide open dissolved into an open attack on Dean Alberty. Pro-abortion Democratic subcommittee members, apparently aided by Anatomic Gift Foundation, savaged Mr. Alberty's credibility under crossfire that eventually turned into a bipartisan turkey- shoot. When the smoke cleared, the attention of the nation was drawn effectively away from the message of an illegal trade in baby parts, and directed instead to a fallen messenger.
The orchestration of Mr. Alberty's fall began long before he arrived in Washington. The person who telephoned him the Wednesday before the hearing was Chicago attorney Fay Clayton. Ms. Clayton is a hardball, feminist lawyer who in 1998 successfully prosecuted a group of pro-life demonstrators on federal racketeering charges. Late last year, Anatomic Gift Foundation retained Ms. Clayton as counsel in a civil suit that alleged that Mr. Alberty, by recovering fetal tissue for Miles Jones, had violated a non-compete agreement he had signed when AGF hired him.
Michael Schwartz, an aide to Health and Environment Subcommittee member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), believes the timing of AGF's lawsuit-and the nature of its eventual settlement-raises questions. Why did it take AGF two years to sue Mr. Alberty? Why did the firm file its lawsuit only after Congress had passed a resolution calling for hearings on the fetal-tissue trade? Perhaps most importantly, why did AGF settle the lawsuit in exchange for a vow of silence from Dean Alberty, when the company claimed in the suit that Mr. Alberty had injured AGF financially?
Under the terms of the out-of-court settlement, Mr. Alberty not only does not have to give AGF any money; he may also keep the non-fetal tissue recovery business he recently launched. That is, as long as he keeps his mouth shut. He is prohibited by the settlement from speaking to anyone- unless under subpoena by a court or Congress-about what he saw when he worked for AGF. As a consequence, GOP subcommittee members charged with preparing for the March 9 hearing were not able to pre-screen Mr. Alberty to determine whether he'd make a sound witness.
But that apparently did not stop Fay Clayton from conducting her own brand of pre-screening. Mr. Alberty says Ms. Clayton called him the day before the hearing to rehearse portions of his deposition with him over the telephone. She may have been legally able to do that because part of AGF's settlement with Mr. Alberty stipulated that AGF attorneys had 20 hours of access to follow up with him. Ms. Clayton did not respond to WORLD's phone call. "She told me that people were going to go to jail for whatever I said at the hearing the next day," Mr. Alberty says. "Then she read me portions of my deposition, and asked me to confirm that what she was reading was what I had said."
Mr. Alberty says it was his impression that Ms. Clayton called him to "coach" his upcoming testimony, "so she could make sure I said the same thing in the hearing as I had said in my deposition. Also to scare and intimidate me. It worked. By the time my plane touched down in Baltimore, I was scared to death."
Although he didn't know it, Mr. Alberty had good reason to be scared. According to Michael Schwartz, AGF had provided documents to pro- abortion Democrats on the subcommittee to help them destroy Mr. Alberty's credibility. Further, once minority members of the committee had obtained Mr. Bardsley's materials, Mr. Schwartz says they withheld them from GOP subcommittee members until just hours before the hearing. As a result, subcommittee Democrats were able to dismantle Mr. Alberty's story in a public vivisection that Lou Sheldon and Jim Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition called "a disaster."
It was Mr. Alberty's deposition in particular that helped Democrats shred his viability as a witness. He gave the deposition to Ms. Clayton just prior to his settlement with AGF. In it, Mr. Alberty said under oath that he had "no personal knowledge" of whether AGF ever sold fetal tissue in violation of the law. Mr. Alberty also admitted that he had embellished stories of abortion clinic goings-on that he had told to Life Dynamics in a videotape made by the group in May 1998.
"Personal knowledge" is a precise legal term that means a person was not an actual eyewitness or party to a specific event. But it does not mean that Mr. Alberty, who says he dissected dead children according to AGF's client- researcher requirements and had seen AGF's baby-parts price list, could not have made a reasonable assumption that his employers were operating illegally.
In addition, Mr. Alberty's attorney David Stout, Mr. Schwartz, and others believe that though Mr. Alberty may have embellished accounts he shared with Life Dynamics, the broad core of his story is true-including the story Mr. Alberty told legislators drove him to come forward about the body-parts trade in the first place: that of infant twins, aborted alive and brought to him in a pan for dissection. At the hearing and on the Life Dynamics videotape, Mr. Alberty said the twins, who were between 26 and 30 weeks old, were "cuddling each other" and "gasping for breath."
The incident was a crucial part of what Mr. Alberty felt was a battle for his soul. Vowing to leave the abortion business and make peace with God, Mr. Alberty walked out of the lab and out of the clinic. Even while confused, frightened, and under fire from his subcommittee inquisitors, Mr. Alberty- under oath-did not recant that story.
House members bent on discrediting Mr. Alberty brushed past the issue of the twins and focused instead on his "no personal knowledge" statements, as well as discrepancies between his deposition and the Life Dynamics videotape. California Reps. Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo, and Lois Capps peppered Mr. Alberty with accusatory questions that Mr. Schwartz says "blew his credibility to shreds within minutes."
Another trap: Ms. Eshoo raised a sheet of paper in the air and waved it like a flag. It was a photocopy of a check made out to Mr. Alberty by Life Dynamics. In all, the group paid Mr. Alberty more than $10,000, plus $11,276 in reimbursements for expenses, over the two-year period he gathered information for them. Although Mr. Alberty does not feel that his accepting money in return for investigative work bears on his credibility, that revelation effectively nailed shut the coffin on his testimony.
Since the hearing, some have questioned the competence of the GOP staff charged with preparing for the hearing. Life Dynamics president Mark Crutcher said, "We repeatedly warned them that ... if they tried to make their case on what Alberty might do or say, rather than on the documentation, the hearing could blow up in their faces."
Mr. Alberty told WORLD that both his reputation and his life now lie in tatters. A week after the hearing debacle, he was fired from his job at a Missouri adult organ donation service. He now works as a part-time landscaper.
"I really came close to wanting to end my life after the hearing," says Mr. Alberty. "I wanted to try to do the right thing, but you know, the Devil won that day."
Secrets of the Dead-Baby Industry
Aborted fetuses are being dissected alive, harvested and sold in pieces to fuel a vast research enterprise
by CELESTE MCGOVERN
The doctor walked into the lab and set a steel pan on the table. "Got you some good specimens," he said. "Twins." The technician looked down at a pair of perfectly formed 24-week-old fetuses moving and gasping for air. Except for a few nicks from the surgical tongs that had pulled them out, they seemed uninjured. "There's something wrong here," the technician stammered. "They are moving. I don't do this. That's not in my contract." She watched the doctor take a bottle of sterile water and fill the pan until the water ran up over the babies' mouths and noses. Then she left the room. "I would not watch those fetuses moving," she recalls. "That's when I decided it was wrong."
The technician uses the pseudonym "Kelly." She has her back to the camera, she wears a wig. and her voice is electronically modified because she says she fears for her life. Until a few months ago Kelly worked for a Maryland company called the Anatomic Gift Foundation. Her job was to procure fetal tissue for research. She worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic that was also a member of the National Abortion Federation. Her interview appears on the May issue of "Life Talk" video magazinethe first of a monthly series of videos released by Life Dynamics Inc., a renegade pro-life group based in Denton. Texas, that admits to having spies work in abortion clinics to uncover their most closely guarded secrets.
This week the group is releasing the documentary evidence it has gathered since Kelly approached them nearly two years ago. Life Dynamics has dozens of order forms from researchers requesting fetal parts, price lists for fetal organs and tissue, and donation consent forms for women undergoing abortion. It offers a gruesome glimpse at a vast trade in human tissue from babies that are aborted, and sometimes vivisected, to satiate the exploding multibillion-dollar biotechnology industry.
The traffic in tissue flows worldwide into respected tax-funded laboratories, including Canadian ones. The research itself is usually for laudable goals, from helping prenatal infants survive to curing Parkinson's disease. But the trade, worth billions. raises myriad ethical questions: Are some humans being killed to benefit others? Are women being exploited to support tissue collection? Who is profiting from the trade? And what are the social implications of its existence?
Once the stuff of cheap science-fiction, human clones, artificial wombs and human-animal cross-species are all now serious possibilities. Sexless procreation is already a reality with in vitro fertilization. Selective breeding of human beings is commonplace thanks to embryo screening and "genetic terminations." And human- human brain cell
"These researchers don't want to see the whole baby. That would freak them out. They think they're about higher medicine that is serving a cause not about dead babies."
transplants are government-funded. All of these endeavours rely on aborted fetuses.
Scientists have used fetal tissue in research since at least the 1950s, says Pittsburgh researcher Suzanne Rini, author of the 1995 book Beyond Abortion: A Chronicle of Fetal Experimentation. Thirty years ago, as abortion laws were relaxing and some second- and third-trimester abortions were performed by hysterotomy (essentially a Caesarean section), experiments on live fetuses were cutting-edge technology. Geoffrey Chamberlain received a professional award for research (outlined in the March 1968 issue of The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology) in which he took live aborted fetuses, attached them to an artificial placenta, perfused them to see if he could make them live, and then pulled the plug on them. No one objected.
It was shortly after that article, Mrs. Rini notes, that the Cambridge Evening Post featured a story on Lawrence Lawn, a physician who did manage to provoke controversy when it was learned that he was procuring live fetuses from a private abortion clinic. "We are simply allowing something which is destined for the incinerator to benefit mankind," he said, obliging a photographer with a picture of himself standing next to a dying fetus suspended in a perfusion tank. Yet even Dr. Lawn believed there were limits. "Of course we would not dream of experimenting with a viable child. We would not consider that to be right."
With the decriminalization of abortion in the 1970s, fetal research became, in the words one ethicist, a "golden opportunity for researchers. The public almost never heard about fetal experimentation. But by the 1980s, some of the most macabre research was being publicly funded. Mrs. Rini catalogues experiments ranging from the perfusion of impaled beating fetal hearts with adrenaline and caffeine to eye-tissue transplants and skin grafting. Dr. Bernard Gondos of the University of Connecticut at Farmington, whose research on fetal gonads described most of his specimens as "previable dead," lamented having to import fetuses from outside the United States. Dr. Karen Holbrook of the University of Washington received a $259.740 grant in 1984-85 for her work on "Fetal Skin Biology" using first-, second- and third trimester human fetuses. She told Mrs. Rini: "Hopefully they are not born alive. It's better to avoid that. The skin is taken after fetal demise." Asked it the skin diseases she was trying to diagnose prenatally were fatal, Dr. Holbrook replied, "No, but they ruin your life."
By the 1980s transplants had become entrenched, and fetal tissue, which grows quickly and is less likely to trigger an immune reaction in a host, became even more coveted. Fetal tissue transplants became part of efforts to treat diabetes, Huntington's disease, blindness, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, leukemia and more. In 1988, U.S. president George Bush banned federal funding of fetal human-to-human transplants. This move was widely mistaken for a ban on all fetal tissue research; in fact, most such research carried on unimpeded.
In any case, Bill Clinton's first official act as president in 1993 was to strike down the ban. People were demanding to be "treated" with fetuses. California lawyer Joan Samuelson had founded the Parkinson Action Network (PAN) in 1990 to lobby for an end to the moratorium. "Will lifting the ban save us in time?" she asked when it was abolished, and she began lobbying for an accelerated grant review process for fetal-tissue transplant research.
Transplants of brain tissue from young fetuses (usually aborted at less than 10 weeks) into Parkinson's sufferers have attracted the most public attention to fetal tissue research. In 1990 the results of Olle Lindvall's research team's transplants into four Swedish patients were hailed as "promising" because one recipient appeared to have benefited remarkably. The other patients were not monitored long enough to determine the grafts' effects.
Neuroscientists presenting findings at the XIII International Congress on Parkinson's Disease in Vancouver last month sounded optimistic, but their data was not the knockout blow Parkinson's researchers have been hoping for. Thomas Freeman of the University of South Florida reported that 360 patients have received human tissue transplants in 17 centres worldwide to date. But the variables researchers use to evaluate success differ so widely as to be incomparable, so he focused on the results of his own "open trial" on six patients, which he admitted was open to placebo effects and observer bias.
The only fetal tissue transplant study to be performed with a control group so far was published in April by Curt Freed of the University of Colorado and Stanley Fahn of Columbia Presbyterian. They followed two sets of patients: those who actually received neural fetal cells and those who had their heads opened for a sham surgery in an attempt to eliminate the placebo effect. Although the Medical Post headlined the research story "Parkinson's progress," and the New York Times proclaimed, "Hints of success in fetal cell transplants," Dr. Paul Ranalli, a professor of neurology at the University of Toronto, calls the research "hugely unimpressive." The only benefits were bestowed on patients under age 60, he notes, and the vast majority of Parkinson's patients are senior citizens. Even in those cases, he adds, "a magnifying glass is required to discern any functional benefit."
What is more, Dr. Fahn told the Vancouver congress that he was disturbed by an unexpected outcome of the trial: facial "runaway dyskinesias" (involuntary muscle movements) which were particularly
"We'd ship tissue by FedEx or UPS. Sometimes it was intact fetuses, or it might be a batch of eyes, or 30-40 livers, or thymuses. Whatever it was, there were mass quantities of it going out."
younger patients. Other researchers have noted similar findings, says Dr. Freeman. As with drugs, there could be a dose at which fetal cells "may be harmful," he said.
Procedures on more Parkinson's patients will help clarify these findings. Dr. Freeman told the attendees that Canada is leading the way in these experiments, primarily at the lab of Dr. Ivar Mendez at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Dr. Mendez. who declined an interview last week, received a $90,042 grant from the Medical Research Council of Canada for 1999-2000. His transplant data is anticipated soon.
At the advent of the new millennium it is "pleuripotent" embryonic stem cells that are at the forefront of fetal tissue research. Ethicists are already distinguishing between using human embryos "left over" from in vitro fertilization and humans created specifically for research. "Farmed" embryos are capable of differentiating into many types of tissue and are being hailed as new sources for whole organs for donation, and for human clones.
As bright as all the research may sound, others discern a darker side. There is no law on fetal tissue collectiononly guidelines. Researchers are free to hold to them or ignore them. And where laws do existsuch as the ones against infanticide and the sale of human tissuethere are ways around them, and they are sometimes broken outright.
Kelly explains that the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic she was working in received a service fee from the Anatomic Gift Foundation for its tissue "donations." "We were never employees of the abortion clinic," she explains. "We would have a contract with an abortion clinic that would allow us to go in...[to] procure fetal tissue for research. We would get a generated list each day to tell us what tissue researchers, pharmaceuticals and universities were looking for. Then we would go and look at the particular patient chartswe had to screen out anyone who had STDs or fetal anomalies. These had to be the most perfect specimens we could give these researchers for the best value that we could sell for." Probably only 10% of fetuses were ruled out for anomalies, she adds. The rest were "healthy donors."
Fetuses ranged in age from seven weeks to 30 weeks and beyond. Typically Kelly harvested tissue from 30 to 40 "late" fetuses each week. "We were taking eyes, livers, brains, thymuses, and especially cardiac blood even blood from the limbs that we would get from the veins," she says.
Researchers used their own shipping firms"UPS, FedEx or a special courier," she adds. "We would take it in a box and put it on as regular cargo. Sometimes it would be an intact fetus or it might be a batch of eyes or 50 to 40 livers going out that day, or thymuses. Whatever it was, there were mass quantities of it going out." To support this claim, Life Dynamics provides copies of dozens of order forms for fetal parts from North American researchers. They contain names of researchers, universities and pharmaceutical companies, day and evening telephone numbers, courier account numbers, the type of tissue requested, preferred gestational age of the fetus, and other details.
A sample, from a scientist studying the "Biochemical Characterization of human type X Collagen," requests "Whole intact leg, include entire hip joint, 22-24 weeks gest." The extractor is directed to "dissect by cutting through symphasis pubis and include whole Illium [hip joint]. To be removed from fetal cadaver within 10 minutes."
One order form carries the name of the University of British Columbia's Dr. Vanugram Venkatesh alongside a request for an international FedEx shipment of "16-24 week lungs (trachea not required)" to study "molecular mechanisms of fluid reabsorption in human fetal lung." "Significance: Respiratory Distress Syndrome...a major cause of death in premature infants." The memo adds: "Bill our account."
Contacted last week at his Vancouver office. Dr. Vankatesh said that he did do research on immature lungs two years ago with a Medical Research Council grant, at the B.C. Children's Hospital. But he added, "I don't do that anymore," Asked if he used human tissue, he replied. "Yeah." then changed his mind. "Well, we were doing genetics mainly...Where are you getting your information? We were using cell lines." Asked if he had ever ordered fetal lungs from the U.S., he said, "I have to go," and hung up abruptly.
On their video, Life Dynamics asks Kelly if the abortionist at the clinic ever deliberately altered procedure to procure tissue. "Yes," she replies. "All the limbs, the arms, the head, the chest cavity were never invaded. They were all completely intact, Sometimes, the fetus appeared to be dead, but when you'd open up the chest cavity you'd see the heart beating."
The clinic used the partial-birth abortion technique for later pregnancies: the doctor grasps hold of a fetus leg with tongs and pulls the entire baby, except for the head, feet-first and face down out of the mother. Then he punctures the base of the skull with scissors, inserts a cannula to suck out the brain, and slides the head out. It is a three-day procedure requiring that women be inserted with laminaria, seaweed cervix dilators, beforehand.
"All the limbs, the arms, the head, the chest cavity were never invaded. They were all completely intact. Sometimes the fetuses appeared to be dead, but when you would open the chest cavity you'd see the heart beating."
Were women ever coerced into the procedure? Kelly says that sometimes, before the final surgery, on the third day "you could blatantly hear them in the halls saying they wanted to change their minds." But they were sedated, in what Kelly calls a "Nyquil nap," which made it difficult to protest. Sometimes the IV was turned up; in any case, the woman always had the abortion.
Routinely, the women would go into labour before the final surgery. "They were coming out alive," says Kelly. Aside from the incident with the twins, she says, there were three to four live births in a typical two-week period. "The doctor would either break the neck or take a pair of tongs and basically beat the fetus until it was dead."
As incredible as Kelly's testimony seems, other sources corroborate it. Eric Harrah worked in the abortion industry for 11 years, leaving it 18 months ago. He managed and owned or partially owned 26 American abortion clinics. Live births, he tells Life Dynamics, were the industry's "dirty little secret." "It was always very disturbing, so the doctor would try to conceal it from the rest of the staff," he says, but one incident is hard for him to forget.
The woman in question was 26 weeks pregnant. She had laminaria inserted, signed paperwork agreeing not to call anyone but the clinic if she went into labour, and was sent to a motel up the road to await her procedure the next day. She was brought to the clinic in the middle of the night, carrying her fetus in a white cotton hotel towel.
"I was in the scrub room when I saw the towel move," says Mr. Harrah. "A nurse said, 'Eric, you're just tired. It's three in the morning.' Then we both looked and a little baby's arm raised up out of the towel and was moving like a newborn baby. I screamed and ran out. The doctor came in and closed the door and when we went back in to process the baby out of the clinic into the lab, [the baby] had a puncture wound in his chest."
Evidence for the demand for late-term fetal tissue can be corroborated apart from Life Dynamics. The National Institutes for Health operate a Laboratory for Embryology at the university of Washington in Seattle that runs a 24 hour collection service at abortion clinics. An advertisement in the March 1994 NIH Guide still appears on the Internet, offering to "supply tissue from normal or abnormal embryos and fetuses of desired gestational ages between 40 days and term. Specimens are obtained within minutes of passage...and immediately processed according to the requirements of individual investigators...Specimens are shipped by overnight express."
Mark Crutcher, president of Life Dynamics, is now convinced that the research demand for intact late-term fetal organs is the hidden truth behind the partial-birth abortion controversy. In state after state this year, partial-birth abortion bans written into state laws by legislatures have been vehemently opposed by pro-choice groups and overturned by courts. "Why do pro-aborts fight so hard to keep it?" asks Mr. Crutcher. "All it says is you can't kill them by this method. It doesn't prevent them from getting any other kind of abortion. This is about maximizing profits. First, you sell the woman an abortion. Then you turn around and sell the dead baby you take out of her. But you have to take it out whole or you don't have anything to sell."
"It has nothing to do with the woman's right to choose or with protecting the sanctity of the right of abortion," agrees Mr. Harrah. "It has everything to do with protecting the sanctity of the fullness of the abortionists wallet. This is the only type of abortion procedure that doesn't cost them to get rid of the dead baby. They actually make money."
Apart from abortionists and the wholesalers who traffic in aborted baby parts (see story, page 34), who stands to profit from this fetal research? Of the pharmaceutical companies sponsoring it, Mr. Crutcher says: "I don't think there's one that's not involved." He surmises they are investing in the future. Baby boomers are aging, and about to start falling apart. A practical treatment for Parkinson's would be lucrative. "Just look at Viagra," says Mr. Crutcher. (In Canada alone, the little blue impotence pill sold 20,600 prescriptions worth $1.55 million in its first week on the market). "That's just a hint of the fortunes awaiting drug manufacturers pandering to boomers' quest for youth. They're the wealthiest generation in the history of the world. And also the most narcissistic. They want to live forever." And fetuses are the new human scrap heap. Says Mr. Crutcher: "We're going to kill the very young to treat the very old."
Perhaps, but Mrs. Rini offers hope of a wrinkle in the plan. "Does the fetus' aliveness, which is coveted by researchers, and ability to sponsor life for others, ironically but actually prove the fetus' own life?" she writes. She cites ethicist Paul Ramsey: "Far from abortion settling the question of fetal research, it could be that sober reflection on the use of the human fetus in research could unsettle the abortion issue."
Steven Bamforth is a geneticist who operates a fetal tissue repository at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. He and his researchers have the difficult task of sorting through 10- to 12-week fetal remains from abortion clinics in Edmonton and Winnipeg, dissecting recognizable body parts for hearts and eyes. extracting messenger ribonucleic acid and shipping it to other geneticists at the Universities of Toronto and British Columbia. "The humanity is always before us," Dr. Bamforth told this magazine last year. "If society said this research is not acceptable, of course, we would immediately desist. It's not something that I do happily."
PRICE LIST for BODY PARTS
Fee for Services Schedule > age greater than < age same or less than
Unprocessed Specimen (> 8 weeks) $ 70
Unprocessed Specimen (< 8 weeks) $ 50
Livers (< 8 weeks) 30% discount if significantly fragmented $150
Livers (> 8 weeks) 30% discount if significantly fragmented $125
Spleens (< 8 weeks) $ 75
Spleens (> 8 weeks) $ 50
Pancreas (< 8 weeks) $100
Pancreas (> 8 weeks) $ 75
Thymus (< 8 weeks) $100
Thymus (> 8 weeks) $ 75
Intestines & Mesentery $ 50
Mesentery (< 8 weeks) $125
Mesentery (> 8 weeks) $100
Kidney-with/without adrenal (< 8 weeks) $125
Kidney-with/without adrenal (> 8 weeks) $100
Limbs (at least 2) $150
Brain (< 8 weeks) 30% discount if significantly fragmented $999
Brain (> 8 weeks) 30% discount if significantly fragmented $150
Pituitary Gland (> 8 weeks) $300
Bone Marrow (< 8 weeks) $350
Bone Marrow (> 8 weeks) $250
Ears (< 8 weeks) $ 75
Ears (> 8 weeks) $ 50
Eyes (< 8 weeks) 40% discount for single eye $ 75
Eyes (> 8 weeks) 40% discount for single eye $ 50
Skin (> 12 weeks) $100
Lungs & Heart Block $150
Intact Embryonic Cadaver (< 8 weeks) $400
Intact Embryonic Cadaver (> 8 weeks) $600
Intact Calvarium $125
Intact Trunk (with/without limbs) $500
Cord Blood (Snap Frozen LN2) $125
Spinal Column $150
Spinal Cord $325
Gov Site from Net Cache:
AVAILABILITY OF HUMAN FETAL TISSUE
NIH GUIDE, Volume 23, Number 10, March 11, 1994
National Institutes of Health
Human embryonic and fetal tissues are available form the Central
Laboratory for Human Embryology at the University of Washington. The
laboratory, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health,
can supply tissue from normal of abnormal embryos and fetuses of
desired gestational ages between 40 days and term. Specimens are
obtained within minutes of passage and tissues are aseptically
identified, staged and immediately processed according to the
requirements of individual investigators. Presently, processing
methods include immediate fixation, snap fixation, snap freezing in
liquid nitrogen, and placement in balanced salt solutions or media
designated and/or supplied by investigators. Specimens are shipped
by overnight express, arriving the day following procurement. The
laboratory can also supply serial sections of human embryos that have
been preserved in methyl Carnoy's fixative, embedded in paraffin and
sectioned at 5 microns.
Alan G. Fantel, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatrics RD-20
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Telephone: (206) 543-3373
FAX: (206) 543-3184
Opening Lines, subsidiary of Consultative and Diagnostic Pathology, Inc
Price lists and shipping and procurement instructions.
Opening Lines, a division of Consultative and Diagnostic Pathology, Inc., of West Frankfort, Ill., will pay:
- $999 for brains eight weeks old or less ("30% discount if significantly fragmented")
-$400 for an intact embryonic cadaver eight weeks old or less
- $600 for an intact embryonic cadaver above eight weeks
- $550 for gonads
- $350 for bone marrow
- pricing = various: livers, spleens, pancreas, thymus, mesentery, kidney, pituitary gland, ears, eyes, skin, lung and heart block, spinal column, spinal cord, cord blood, limbs
Opening Lines provides two kinds of promotional literature - brochures for abortion clinics and brochures for researchers and industry.
The front page of the brochure for abortion facilities proclaims:
"Find out how you can turn your patient's decision into something wonderful."
Inside is this text:
"We know your patient's decision to have an abortion was carefully considered and we also know it was a very difficult one to make.
"Now that the choice has been made, we ask that you propose to your patient a simple program that could help thousands of people....
"Consultative and Diagnostic Pathology, Inc., will be asking to obtain tissue specimens from your patient's medical procedure....
"This is an opportunity to make a difference ... and it can be beneficial to your clinic....
" 1) Consultative and Diagnostic Pathology will lease space from your facility to perform the harvesting and distribution of tissue. The revenue generated from the lease can be used to offset your clinic's overhead.
" 2) Consultative and Diagnostic Pathology can train your staff to harvest and process fetal tissue. Based on your volume we will reimburse part or all of your employee's salary, thereby reducing your overhead."
The brochure for industry:
"Fresh Fetal Tissue harvested and shipped to your specifications ... where and when you need it."
The company boasts its tissue "is the highest quality, most affordable, and freshest tissue prepared to your specifications and delivered in the quantities - you need when you need it."
UC California, State of California, and Others Harvest Dead Babies for Research
By Maggie Garcia
Despite federal laws prohibiting the selling of fetal tissue, some in the abortion industry are ignoring the law in pursuit of revenue.
Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics recently exposed two businesses that sell baby body parts to the burgeoning biomedical research field. One company that supplies fetal tissue to Nothern California researchers is the Anatomic Gift Foundation. But perhaps the most well-known supplier is a company called Opening Lines. The company was thrust into the spotlight last month as the subject of an ABC 20/20 story. The episode showed Opening Lines' founder, Dr. Miles Jones, discussing the profit in selling fetal parts to researchers. "If you have a guy that's desperate for, let's say, a heart, then he'll pay you whatever you ask," he said.
According to Life Dynamics literature, Jim and Brenda Bardsley founded the Anatomic Gift Foundation in 1994. They are purportedly located in several locations in the United States. Not all of the facilities market fetal tissue, but Life Dynamics has determined that the Anatomical Gift Foundation has set up a fetal tissue harvesting facility at the Mayfair Women's Clinic in Aurora, Colorado. The Mayfair Women's clinic is owned and operated by Dr. Ronald Edward Kusefski. In the 1996 Life Dynamics's video "Cristy's Choice", it is revealed that three years earlier, Dr. Kusefski performed an abortion on a young woman named Cristy who was left comatose after Kusefski botched her abortion.
Though the law is clear that abortions cannot be altered in order to get a better specimen, the 20/20 story featured a man, Dean Alberty, who had worked at both Opening Lines and the Anatomical Gift Foundation. He told ABC's Chris Wallace that both businesses altered abortions to get a better specimen of baby parts. Alberty said that at one clinic in Overland Park, Kansas, early abortions were normally performed with a suction machine. But in the case where the fetus was being donated for research, Alberty said that a special syringe was used for the procedure. Wallace told viewers that this puts women through a longer and more uncomfortable abortion.
Life Dynamics identified several Northern California researchers who ordered fetal body parts from the Anatomical Gift Foundation and Opening Lines. A review of purchase orders from both the Anatomical Gift Foundation and Opening Lines showed what body parts researchers were most interested in. One purchase order, which was classified as a "confidential protocol" came from South San Francisco-based Genentech, Inc. Greg Solar, a researcher with the publicly traded multinational company, requested "limbs, liver, thymus, (prenatal) (limbs 21+), (Thymus & Liver 17+). The purchase order outlined how the tissue was to be used: "Human fetal tissue will be used for the generation of SCID mice ... a SCID mouse is engrafted with either a human bone marrow fragment, thymus/liver graft or a lymph node. These mice will then be used to study hemogobinopatheis in vivo. Currently this model is the best available means of evaluating the biology of human hematopoietic stem cells".
According to a Genetech press release, "Genetech, Inc. is a leading international biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets human pharmaceuticals for significant unmet medical needs".
When I called Greg Solar, the Genetech researcher who had requested the fetal parts for comment, the number listed on the purchase order was no longer in service. A call to Genetech's corporate communications department also did not yield a response. The phone numbers given on the press release had a recording that said "The PCS customer you have called is not available at this time".
The University of California at San Francisco researcher, Dr. Deborah Froh, also ordered fetal tissue. Dr. Froh's purchase order requested "Lung 14-24 (will specify with each request)." The 14-24 presumably means a lung from a 14-24 week old preborn baby. Dr. Froh used the lungs for "Ontogeny and regulation of surfactant components in human fetal lung. Premature infants lack surfactant for adequate ventilation". A call to the number listed on Dr. Froh's purchase order was routed to an answering message with the following message: "Hello, this is Debbie Froh. I am no longer with at the University of California." The California Medical Board records for Dr. Froh indicate that her medical license is delinquent and "a citation and or fine had been levied." The fine was levied because Dr. Froh failed to inform the medical board of her change of address. Records show that Dr. Froh's last address was in Crozet, Virginia.
Dr. Heidi Horner, associate director for CNS Pharmacology at Athena Neurosciences in South San Francisco requested "Intact brains preferred but large pieces of brain may be usable...." Dr. Horner's purchase order said that the tissue would be used to "test the effects of endogenous and exogenous neurotoxins on cultured ventral mesencephalic neurons. This will hopefully lead to a better understanding of neurodegenerative processes. The end goal is to discover treatments for Parkinson's disease."
Athena Neurosciences, Inc. is listed with the California secretary of state's office as a stock company. Last year, Athena Neurosciences, Inc., along with Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. sued the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, was for patent infringement. Robert Hillman, an attorney with the Menlo Park law firm of Fish & Richardson, who represented the defendants, was unavailable for comment on the lawsuit. Dr. Horner could not be reached at the phone number she gave on her purchase order.
Dr. Reen Wu, an associate professor at the California Primate Research Center at UC Davis had a precise procedure for harvesting fetal tissue. "Dissect out entire trachea & bronchi intact whenever possible from fetal cadaver (needs to have at least 1/3 of total tissue), place Specimen in container with media ASAP. Store on wet ice". Dr. Wu requested, "1-5 samples per shipment. Requires 5 spec. [specimens] every month". Dr. Wu used the tissue for "growth and differentiation of human conducting airway epithelial cells in culture-Disease study-Cystic Fibrosis". One curious note about Dr. Wu's purchase of fetal tissue is that the research center where he works purportedly only works on "non-human models". According to the center's web site, "The California Regional Primate Research Center (CRPRC) was established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a research resource for investigators when the nonhuman primate is the animal model of choice".
According to the purchase orders that Life Dynamics acquired, other Northern California researchers that bought fetal tissue included Jane Lebkowski, a senior director of research with Applied Immune Sciences in Menlo Park. Lebkowski requested "thymus, lymphoid node, liver, bone" for "monociaonal antibodies studies". The purchase order stated that the fetal tissue was to be harvested from babies who where "gestational age 15-22 weeks ... morphologically normal fetus." Additionally, she requested "Abstract chart for age, sex, blood type, medical history ... tissue to be removed under sterile conditions".
The California department of health services also seems to be buying pre-born baby parts. A "confidential protocol" by Dr. John F. Krowka at the California Department of Health Services Berkeley facility showed him ordering "liver, thymus & skin 18-24 wks." Dr. Krowka ordered the tissue to study "liver/thymus: molecular and biomechanical mechanisms of cell death of human lymphocytes, cell surface markers and stimuli that can trigger cell death and activation in vitro. Will also be transplanted into immunodeficient mice for in vivo study...."
After the 20/20 story broke, congressional hearings were held regarding the trafficking of fetal tissue. Dr. Miles Jones of Opening Lines was called to testify before Congress regarding his role in selling fetal tissue. Dr. Jones did not appear at the hearings. All attempts to reach Dr. Jones at his Missouri clinic were to no avail--the phone has been disconnected. Opening Line's web site, www. openinglines.net, has been closed down. According to Life Dynamics, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking Dr. Jones.
FBI Says Starting Probe Into Fetal Tissue
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kansas City, Missouri, has launched a probe into the marketing of fetal tissue, an FBI spokesman said on Friday.
``We are investigating possible criminal violations in the marketing of fetal tissue to determine if there is a violation of federal criminal law,'' FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza told Reuters.
He would not elaborate on the scope of the investigation or offer any further details.
On Thursday, members of a House Commerce subcommittee called on Attorney General Janet Reno to open an investigation into the selling of fetal tissue after a Kansas City-area pathologist was featured in an ABC News undercover report about the alleged selling of fetal body parts for profit.
The pathologist, Dr. Miles Jones, was recorded by a hidden camera discussing making thousands of dollars a week selling fetal parts.
Jones was subpoenaed to testify before the committee but did not appear and was held in contempt of Congress.
The Health and Environmental subcommittee is holding hearings to determine if laws restricting the methods and fees involved in fetal tissue harvesting are being broken.
Fetal tissue research is permitted because scientists believe it holds promise for treating a range of diseases. But its sale is strictly limited. Sellers only can recoup the cost of harvesting tissue and cannot turn a profit.
Because aborted fetuses are one source for the tissue, many fear selling of the tissue will encourage abortions.
A spokesman for the House committee said further doctors may be putting women's health at risk by changing abortion procedures to obtain better tissue.
Opening Statement of Hon. John D. Dingell
Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce
Markup of: H.R. 1089, Mutual Fund Tax Awareness Act of 1999;
H.R. 887, Requiring Disclosure of Charitable Contributions;
H.R. 1954, Rental Fairness Act of 1999;
Contempt report against Dr. Miles Jones
March 15, 2000
With respect to the contempt report against Dr. Miles Jones, the Subcommittee on Health and Environment voted to unanimously to find Dr. Jones in contempt, and I agree with their decision. Dr. Jones recently made statements on the television show 20/20 that on their face suggest possible criminal activities in the procurement and sale of fetal tissue in violation of Federal law. This Committee issued a valid subpoena to Dr. Jones to appear before the Subcommittee as part of its investigation into this subject, and Dr. Jones has ignored it. Indeed, he has failed to even provide an explanation for his decision not to honor the subpoena. In 1993 this Committee wrote a law to ensure that important medical research involving fetal tissue could be conducted, while adhering to strict ethical guidelines. We remain committed to ensuring that the requirements of the law are followed. We are also committed to ensuring that a subpoena to testify before the Committee is not ignored. Therefore, I expect the vote on this matter to be unanimous.
Fickle fortunes of biotech biz
by Michael Cook
The Weekend Australian, 17 August 2002
Embryonic science is proving a hard sell, reports Michael Cook
Stem Cell Sciences has become a world leader in supplying purified mouse embryonic stem cells to big pharmaceutical firms such as Aventis, Glaxo Wellcome, Genentech, and Smithkline Beecham. ES Cell says it is negotiating for ``a number of drug discovery licensing deals'' using its human embryonic cell lines, probably including toxicity testing.
For months Queensland senator Ron Boswell has been muttering that drug companies, not children with diabetes or grandparents with Parkinson's disease, will be the beneficiaries of embryonic stem cell research.
``The prospect of exporting embryo stem cell lines grown on aborted fetal tissue paints a sordid picture of the reality of the commercialisation that lies ahead,'' he tells The Weekend Australian.
In the long term, no one knows whether the fabled cures will come and whether the commercialisation will have been worthwhile. But, in the short term, Boswell may well be on the money.
Medicine - Court Overturns Fetal Tissue Ban
Saturday 30 December 2000
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court panel has ruled unconstitutional an Arizona law prohibiting the use of fetal tissue in medical research.
The decision Friday from the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wipes out the nation's last ban on such practices.
The 1984 Arizona statute was too vague for doctors to know what type of medical experimentation or scientific investigation on aborted fetuses was illegal, the court said.
``Individuals must be given a reasonable opportunity to discern whether their conduct is proscribed so they can choose whether or not to comply with the law,'' Judge Mary M. Schroeder wrote for the court.
Similar laws have been overturned in Utah, Louisiana and Illinois. Congress lifted a ban on federally funded research using fetal tissue in 1993.
Arizona's law barred the use of aborted fetal tissue or embryo for medical experimentation or scientific or medical investigation unless to perform a ``routine pathological examination'' or to diagnose a maternal or fetal condition that prompted the abortion.
The law was challenged by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in 1996 on behalf of four Parkinson's disease patients. Two Arizona affiliates of Planned Parenthood later joined the lawsuit.
Medical studies suggest some fetal tissue transplants can treat the neurological disorder because the tissue produces dopamine, a substance in the brain that controls voluntary movement.
The appeals court ruling upholds a similar decision from U.S. District Court Judge William Browning in Arizona.
``We've got judges here making opinions about the statute, which is not vague in my opinion,'' Arizona Right to Life President John Jakubczyk said.
The state also maintained the statute was clear. It argued that a doctor could avoid violating the law, which carries an 18-month sentence, by not performing any tests or procedures on aborted fetuses.
``This argument ignores the exceptions built into the statute that creates the confusion,'' Schroeder wrote.
The Arizona attorney general's office was reviewing the decision, spokeswoman Pati Urias said. The state may ask the court to review its decision or consider new legislation to circumvent the panel's ruling, she said.
Thanks for the ping!
There is a premium for a 'whole cadaver' of an otherwise healthy unborn child, to some researchers. One can only conjecture that at least one little one has arrived on 'wet ice' and been 'opened up' to reveal a still struggling, beating tiny heart. I would go into more depth but my source will not swear to more in a court of law for fear of tremendous retribution.
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