The Trump Administration ended fetal tissue research for government scientists last week. The general result: the policy doesn’t have to do with reducing abortions as much as it would appear to punish those who research with the banned materials states, according to Terry Hassold, a Washington State University molecular biological sciences professor.

Megan Rowe, of the Spokesman-Review, reported the Trump administration’s ban on the tissue had little to do with abortions. Leslie Francis, University of Utah philosophy professor, declared “Nobody has abortions in order to donate their tissue to research” but rather “for other reasons” and consequently, any person could ask “what to do” once this action has happened.  In fact, it is this concept why other past Republican administrations have allowed this research to continue.

Apparently, the ban doesn’t affect government-funded university research based on position from the Health and Human Services department.  However, it did shut down an HIV treatments study at University of California, San Francisco, reports the Spokesman-Review. This shut-down was also recently reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Professor Hassold’s work hasn’t affected reports the Washington newspaper.  But he is concerned. Hassold notes “Elective terminations are legal” and that rules are “spelled out closely, they’re monitored by the federal government, by university review panels.”   Leslie Francis noted, with fundamental ethical considerations that must be weighted carefully, concerning respect for the tissue itself and the mothers, as well as potential research benefits, how this will help progress medicine.

William Kabasenche, Washington State University clinical associate of philosophy, notes the ethical question concerns when the issue of donation is raised. He emphasized “From my perspective, one of the most important things would be to insulate the decision to terminate a pregnancy from any subsequent decisions about donating fetal tissue.”  According to Ms. Rowe’s Spokesman-Review story, Kabasenche is disappointed that the Trump administration excluded any bioethics council advisory or assistance with any decision.  He emphasized “These are quite complicated ethical issues, and I’ll say as a bioethicist, its disappointing that there isn’t that kind of expertise being provided in the attempt to think about then make policy regarding what I think are complicated bioethical issues.”

Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health wrote an article on the ban that was picked up by Scientific American. She cautions the ban could endanger promising medical research—potentially jeopardizing research programs in diseases such as HIV, Parkinson’s and diabetes according to U.S. scientists.

Gizmodo reported the thoughts of David Magnus, a professor at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, who noted this is a major shift away from policy that had been adopted by previous Republican and Democratic administrations. He is concerned about the loss of important avenues of research involving HIV, neurological disease and vaccine development.

Magnus noted in an email to Gizmodo, “The reason it is misguided—and why past anti-abortion presidents have supported this research—is that it (the latest ban) conflates the cause of the creation of the fetal tissue with later use” and that I assume we are all opposed to people driving while drunk, shooting other people or drowning. But if those tragedies happen, we often try to find ways to get at least some good out of it through organ donation and sometimes through research on the bodies” said Magnus.

The move was made to appease an anti-choice political base and could lead to a serious blow to certain scientific programs. This author understands the moral, ethical and spiritual dilemmas that many might confront, and hence advocate for and politically espouse; and there are many others that understand and articulate a diametrically opposed position–and some that understand both sides and therefore, seeks a third position—one that ultimately transcends the seemingly polar oppositional sides in regard to this charged topic—paving the way for progress but also peace of mind.

Source: Spokesman

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