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Polio vaccine, medical research and fetal tissue donation

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause but what they say about their opponents.” —Robert Kennedy

HF 2329 Ban on fetal tissue donation

Can you imagine what our lives would be like today without a polio vaccine? This debilitating disease has been eradicated for nearly every country in the world since the approval for use of the Salk (1955) and Sabin (1962) vaccines. This vaccine was discovered through the use of fetal tissue research. Putting politics above science and medicine, House Republicans have promoted a bill (HF 2329) to the House floor for debate that would put obstacles in the way of fetal tissue research.

The unfortunate effect of this bill would be to punish those families who look to fetal tissue research to provide treatments and cures. Banning donations will block critical and life-saving medical research. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and improved as the result of fetal tissue research. Today, scientist in Iowa are researching treatment for pancreatic cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders using fetal cells. This bill would make the use of those cell lines illegal.

HF 2329 puts politics above good science and medicine.

From the Des Moines Register: “How about we leave that to scientists, not politicians, to decide? Because it sure seems the cells extracted from fetal tissue are important in work seeking to treat and cure debilitating diseases.”

From the Quad City Times: “The legislation weaving through the Republican-dominated House would not only ban the sale of fetal tissue. It would also ban research using it”

I recommend reading the full editorials in both the Des Moines Register and Quad City Times. The Quad City Times directly addresses the fraudulently created videos that were released last summer claiming that Planned Parenthood had sold fetal tissue. It is illegal under federal law to sell fetal tissue and Planned Parenthood has been cleared of any wrong doing. The individuals who created the videos have been indicted for felony fraud.

Allowing those who want to donate fetal tissue to do so in an ethical manner means that scientists can legally obtain fetal tissue for research purposes. The decision to donate shouldn’t be politicized, and participation in such programs should remain voluntary for both health care providers and any interested patients.

A federal panel in 1988 devised clear guidelines for fetal tissue research that have been incorporated into both federal law and guidelines from leading health care organizations such as the American Medical Association. Fetal tissue/cell research offers hope that we will find relief from so many serious illnesses and chronic conditions.

I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without a Polio vaccine. So many of us place hope that research will find cures and better treatment and prevention for many other conditions and illnesses. I will not support a bill that would tie the hands of researchers.

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