Letter to the Editor
July 06, 2001
Will need a lot of abortions if stem-cell research is approved

Dear Editor,

There are some people who claim there are "hopeful possibilities" for using aborted babies for stem cell research. Notice these people do not spell out the costs and sheer numbers of aborted babies needed to accomplish the task of even attempting to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal-cord injury or Alzheimer's.

With regard to the diabetes claim alone, Dr. Bernard Nathanson says, "...the fetus must be aborted between 14 and 20 weeks in order for the pancreatic tissue harvested from the fetus to be suitable and functional. There are approximately 1.4 million insulin-dependent diabetics in this country, and it requires the tissue from eight fetuses to substitute for the deficient pancreas in the adult suffering from diabetes; thus we would need to abort 11.2 million fetuses annually at the 14- to 20-week stage to treat all the insulin-dependent diabetics in the United States.

"At present we abort approximately 120,000 fetuses annually within this time window in pregnancy; where are the more than 11 million other fetuses to be sacrificed for this purpose to come from? In the matter of the treatment of neurologic disease, as indicated earlier, there are approximately 1 million sufferers of Parkinson's disease in this country. In addition, there are at least 1 million sufferers of Alzheimer's disease, 1 million cerebral palsy patients, several million stroke victims and paraplegics, as well as 250,000 to 350,000 victims of multiple sclerosis.

"Thus we have at least 4 to 5 million potential patients awaiting fetal tissue therapy for their neurologic afflictions. Theoretically, in order to obtain suitable brain and nerve tissue for each patient, we must abort four fetuses at nine to 12 weeks, but 10 to 20 percent of the obtained tissue must be discarded because of bacterial contamination; thus in practical terms we must abort five fetuses at nine to 12 weeks to treat each victim of neurologic disease with this technology. In short, we need to abort 15 to 20 million babies at nine to 12 weeks to harvest sufficient tissue to treat this seemingly endless waiting list.

"We now abort approximately 800,000 babies annually in this time window of pregnancy; where are the other 14 to 19 million fetuses to come from? And with the advent of RU-486 (the abortion pill), probably 50 percent of women will choose medical abortion. These fetuses are already dead when expelled and are of no use for transplant purposes. Thus we must double all the figures cited once RU-486 comes into common use."

Nathanson continues: "The answer, of course, is as simple as it is repugnant: We will be forced to buy and import unimaginable quantities of human fetal tissue from the Third World. Entrepreneurs from the United States (and Western Europe as well) will flood Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Central and South America and will encourage women to become pregnant three and four times a year for the sole purpose of selling their fetal tissue." Let your mind wander on that thought.

Nathanson also cites the costs involved per patient, and with insurance companies as selective as they are even now, it doesn't appear feasible from an insurance company's point of view to incur these hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of dollars for an operation that has not been proven to be effective. Richard M. Doerflinger testified before the Senate that "in discussions of human experimentation, the researcher's temptation is to think that if something technically can be done it ethically should be done - particularly if it may lead to medical benefits or advances in scientific knowledge.

"A civilized society will appreciate the possibilities opened up by research, but will insist that scientific progress must not come at the expense of human dignity. When this important balance is not maintained, abuses such as the Tuskegee syphilis study or the Cold War radiation experiments become a reality."

There are many Hollywood-type people who are lauding the benefits of stem cell research. If these people acknowledged that other humans would need to be killed to save their own lives or the lives of their families, would they be as accepting of that requirement? There are some people who say stem-cell research is not about politics, science or abortion. What part of stem cell research is not about an aborted life?

Stem-cell research is completely about an unwillingly murdered baby destined to be used for research. It is also common for anti-life views to imply ordinary people will be able to be more thoughtful and reasonable about the issues involved. I would counter only people who believe it is morally and ethically right in their mind to sacrifice one life to save another, no matter the size, can accept that stem-cell research should be continued.

It doesn't take a huge leap of intelligence to figure out we will quickly be dealing in baby parts, not just stem cells. Question abortion and all its related politically acceptable words such as stem-cell research.

Darla Meyers