WASHINGTON – The battle over whether or not to discontinue the use of fetal tissue in taxpayer-funded research played out before two House subcommittees on Capitol Hill Thursday.
Pro-life groups say government funds should not pay for research using cells or tissue from aborted babies – a position strongly advocated by GOP Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The two lawmakers noted that their pro-life constituents are outraged over having their hard-earned money going to support groups like Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.
"Something they don't like, both on the front end and back end — they're paying for it," Jordan told his colleagues on the House Oversight Committee.
Abortion activists argue that Thursday's hearing is another attempt to do away with women's healthcare rights, calling the use of fetal tissue necessary for medical research on Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and HIV-AIDS.
They claimed that fetal tissue has an adaptability that simply isn't true of adult cells. "Alternatives to fetal tissue are not sufficient. All of them come with significant deficiencies," Sally Temple, board member at the International Society for Stem Cell Research, told the House sub-panel.
They say restricting the use of fetal tissue would be greatly hinder the scientific research aimed at creating life-saving drugs and discovering cures for various diseases. Temple said, "This will essentially cripple many of the important lines of investigation and therapy development."
Pro-life witnesses, however, beg to differ, pointing out that effective, non-controversial alternatives are already available. In addition to adult stem cells, those include grown cerebral organoids and "humanized" mice, in which human tumor tissue is engrafted onto the rodents, The Washington Times reports.
"We do not need fetal body parts from aborted babies to achieve future scientific and medical advancements," testified Tara Sander Lee, associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research and education arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
Multiple sclerosis survivor Allison Carr is just one of several patients to benefit from the use of adult tissue.
"I remember very clearly what it was like to have not only one but two doctors look at me and say, 'We are running out of options,'" she recalled.
However, out of desperation, Carr turned to adult stem cell therapy – it was a decision that would save her life.
"It was like my life was starting over again. I had a new chance at life. I literally felt better than I ever had," Carr said.
Watch her story below:
The Susan B. Anthony List's Mallory Quigley warns that funding fetal tissue research will not only encourage abortion, "it also does a disservice to patients like Allison who need policymakers to invest in modern science."
More great adult stem cell stories at StemCellResearchFacts.org