Anyone the least bit familiar with the processes of scientific research knows that it takes time, a lot of time, and money, a lot of money. On major scientific projects, private enterprise does not have the financial staying power to fund the lengthy research. That is why no progress can be made unless government is there to assist in funding. When there is a research path that not only shortens the research time but is scientifically more correct than any alternative, it should be used and used ethically. Ethic is not religion.
Nevertheless, religion has once again trumped good sense and pushed its anti-science agenda to the detriment of all individuals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has placed new limits on the use of human fetal tissue in research. This is because of the objection of the anti-abortion religious movement which began under George W. Bush when he clamped down on stem-cell research. Now, the final death blow of scientific research using human cells of aborted fetuses is cast by Trump.
The government is halting any internal research that involves the use of human fetal tissue, which is obtained through elective abortions. “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration” the government said in its announcement.
Nevertheless, religion has once again trumped good sense and pushed its anti-science agenda into the driver’s seat. This is quite a loss, almost as critical as the refusal to counter global warming. Fetal tissue has been essential in research to develop therapies that have saved millions of lives. There is no alternative that works effectively, nor is there likely to be one created. Successes like the development of the polio vaccine, rubella vaccine, and advanced treatments for macular degeneration, MS, heart disease and diabetes, to name a few, are there because of the fetal tissue foundation in the research. Just as scientists are making monumental gains in Cancer research using fetal tissue, Trump religion shuts it down. That progress can never be recaptured. Fetal cells and tissue have unique properties that make them very valuable for research in tissue generation and regeneration.
Ironically, fetal tissue research historically has led to major advances in treatment for conditions arising during pregnancy and that threaten the survival of fetuses, as well as mothers. One must ask: Wouldn’t an aborted fetus, assuming life begins at conception (Trump religion), feel a bit of Christian altruism that its tissue helped in saving the lives of millions of mothers and other fetuses?
Important scientific efforts now underway and where progress is being made will be delayed or lost:
- Key research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke, retinal disease, and age-related macular degeneration.
- Development and testing of vaccines for potential treatment of influenza, dengue fever, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.
- Screening of drugs and development of treatments for infectious disease.
- Development of disease treatments for the human immune system, reliant on fetal tissue implants in animal models.
- Clinical trials now in development in several areas that have the potential to improve the lives of millions.
This defunding is a prime example of what happens with religiosity in government. The religious right says that science is not honoring the lives of human aborted fetuses as to use and burial in a Christian way.
Thousands of people yearly leave their body to the advancement of science upon their death. In fact, many states provide to licensed drivers the option for that process automatically. Are we saying that because an aborted fetus does not have a brain to make such a decision that option is not available to benefit the living? If so, while saving the burial of a dead fetus, we have signed the death warrant for millions of Americans (Trump religion).
Finally, while Trump religion was again attempting to devastate science with the clout of government definancing, there is irony in the fact that two days before the announcement, as the bell rang at midnight, Washington state became the first to legalize composting for bodies as an alternative to casket or cremation. Using wood chips and straw in the compost, a body can turn into about two wheelbarrows of soil within a month. Great for planting a tree. If Trump won’t let us have science, maybe he will let us have nature and let the dead fetuses help in planting trees.