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Old compromises may come back to haunt

More than six years ago right here at W4 I posted this research article on pro-life opposition to aborted fetal tissue research. What I showed there by fairly fine-grained research was that the National Right to Life Committee consistently and explicitly argued against the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in research until the George W. Bush presidency. Then they stopped. In fact, when the Bush NIH funded aborted fetal tissue research, the NRLC issued an explicit statement that it would be a wrong emphasis to be upset about this or oppose it, because embryonic stem-cell research was now the real danger that we must oppose. (Not that that opposition continued consistently either, but that's a story for retelling another day.)

The issue of research using tissue from aborted fetuses may have seemed largely moot in the years since then, because the previous proposals for the use of such tissue have turned out to be scientific busts, and ESCR was touted as more promising. But Moloch is surprisingly creative, and the use of tissue from aborted fetuses is baaaack.

Via Wesley J. Smith we learn that scientists have successfully transplanted a kidney from a murdered unborn child into an adult rat. You gotta love this statement, meant to quell ethical concerns:

The people who donated the fetal tissues gave consent for the kidneys to be used in research[.]

That's amazing. They must have done a mind meld with the unborn babies to obtain their consent to the transplant before they were killed. Oh. Oh, I guess that isn't what they mean. So they didn't obtain consent from the actual people who donated the fetal tissue--namely, the fetuses about to be murdered.

The scientists have hopes that this will become a widespread practice and that organs can be taken from fetuses, grown in animals until they are large enough, and then transplanted again into older human beings. They also see uses in drug trials; the effect of various drugs could be tested on human kidneys in rats or other animals.

My own prediction from my information about organ transplant is that it is unlikely that a heart or liver could be kept usable through multiple transplants or even through the initial transplant from an aborted fetus, but kidneys tend to be a little more durable. Needless to say, for any of this to be possible the abortions must be carried out in some way that keeps the relevant organs intact.

Wesley Smith points out that "ethicist" (I use the term advisedly) Jacob M. Appel has already suggested that women be paid to gestate unborn children for the purpose of selling their organs for transplant. Appel brazenly admits that doing so would increase the number of abortions but is quite unfazed by this. In fact, the selling part is, to him, a selling point: For society to refrain from instituting a market in dead unborn babies purchased from their mothers, hired as breeders to gestate the babies, would be, he says, to "curtail women's economic liberty." (This is what one might call the "libertarianism on a bad drug trip" school of economic-moral reasoning.)

But no doubt Appel would also add that such a market would prevent the in-between step of transplanting the organs to animals. How efficient.

My guess is that for the nonce, even though it is more roundabout, the animal transplant research will be more popular. We are not quite ready for Appel's dystopian utopia. Women who want abortions generally want them at a particular time, and the longer they gestate the more bonded they become to their unborn child. By taking organs from unborn children at the time when their mothers were (it is assumed) going to have them killed anyway, scientists can lessen the "ick" factor and also get more women on board with donating their babies' tissues and organs for research. But if the researchers want to use the kidneys for transplant thereafter, they are probably going to have to find a way to grow them bigger. Hence, the animal transplant step.

Either way, what all of this means is that the issue aborted fetal tissue research is back again. It hasn't been replaced by the ESCR issue, because developed kidneys have a value of their own that is greater than the value of embryonic stem cells, at least for some purposes.

So what will the major pro-life organizations in this country do? Will they oppose this consistently? Will they oppose it no matter what party supports it? Will they say nothing at all? Or will they oppose it only in a partisan fashion--only as long as the "wrong" political party is supporting it? Or will they set the alleged line in the sand far enough out that they hope that their preferred party won't cross it too soon? For example, they might not oppose the use of aborted fetal kidneys in general but rather Appel's idea of paying women to produce and/or gestate fetuses for that purpose--a form of fetal farming.

Color me cynical, but I have been made cynical by watching past history. And what I want to say to those of you who are really pro-life is this: Don't be like that. Oppose what you oppose on principle and no matter who supports it. And keep on opposing it even if your guy, your candidate, your party, compromises on it. Keep opposing it loudly and conspicuously.

And yes: That should certainly include using kidneys from murdered fetuses.

P.S. If kidneys start being taken for organ donation from aborted fetuses, pro-lifers ought to start making some serious inquiries about point of origin if they want to accept a "donated" kidney. Just a thought to bear in mind.

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