On February 20, researchers and doctors here announced their intention to implant brain cells from aborted fetuses (babies) into the brains of adults with Parkinson’s Disease.
They claim it will greatly reduce the symptoms of this progressive and quite debilitating neural disease.
Victoria General, the first hospital in Canada to undertake the procedure, will set up a trial program with four or five patients later this year. They will be hospitalized for up to ten days.
Fetal transplants are not yet covered by medicare but the hospital will absorb all trial costs. (Since hospitals are funded almost entirely by the government, the costs will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers.)
Doctors at the Victoria General will cooperate with researchers from Dalhousie University’s Medial School.
Otherwise highly regarded, the Victoria General is the key abortion referral centre for Atlantic Canada. With the dubious distinction of performing over 1500 abortions a year, it can assure a steady supply of cells for the transplants.
Aborted babies now desirable
The hospital’s president Dr. Bernard Bradley described the transplant procedure as merely “taking the brain cells from a dead fetus,” failing to make clear that only living brain cells can be transplanted. In its turn, The Daily News spoke of “tissue from discarded fetuses.”
“The most desirable cells are those that result from the deliberate, planned killing of an unborn human child,” Anne Marie Tomlins, Executive Director of the Council for Life of Nova Scotia, points out. Cells from spontaneous abortions are considered unsuitable because a genetic defect may have triggered the miscarriage.
When immature fetal tissue is used, anti-rejection drugs are not needed. This is why, Dr. Bradley explained, it is essential to use cells from fetuses rather than from mature organ donors.
Dr. Bradley describes fetal transplants as an exciting clinical procedure with the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for Parkinson’s sufferers.
Exciting as it may be to him, the procedure is still experimental and risky. There is no certainty that it will alleviate the condition, and there is a genuine risk that it will cause strokes, paralysis and other problems.
More experimentation to come
Fetal tissue is expected to help research into other disorders as well.
“But once you open the door to one type of fetal experimentation, you open the door to all kinds,” notes Mrs. Tomlins. Medical journals and other publications document horrendous experiments already carried out on living aborted babies. She fears that the demand for cells and organs from aborted unborn babies will increase, leading to a “growth industry” in the creating and harvesting of children for transplant tissue.
News of the transplant experiment was welcomed by most Parkinson victims and support groups. Like Dr. Bradley, they refuse to consider the source of the ‘transplant material’.
A common reaction was: the tissue is available and is usually discarded; the greater sin is not to make use of it. Dr. Bradley added piously, “The hospital has a moral obligation to serve the health needs of Maritimers.”
Fetal brain transplants became a local issue two years ago when Dalhousie University researcher Dr. Alan Fine asked permission to do transplant research at the Victoria General. His proposal unleashed a storm of debate and promise by the provincial government to establish its own ethics committee to study the question.
It had not done so at the time of the hospital, announcement, so pro-lifers were taken by surprise.
The decision to begin experimentation came one day after the provincial government announced it would leave matters up to the hospital. In other words, Health Minister David Nantes “gave his approval,” noted Mrs. Tomlins.
Fortunately, she and Dianna Smith of the Council for Life had just completed a hard-hitting brochure on fetal transplants and experimentation.
So they were well prepared for the ensuing media appearances, that included appearances on Toronto’s afternoon TV program The Shirley Show and on Canada AM.
In Toronto, they said, “We were surprised to hear Parkinson’s victims in the audience declare that newer conventional medical treatments are quite effective and preferable to this experimental procedure.
Pro-life groups plan to accelerate their public awareness campaign. The Health Minister’s decision is not case in stone, they say. “We will be doing everything possible to get him to reverse this terrible decision.”