University responds to amendment to bill restricting fetal tissue research
Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Marsha Mailick released the following statement regarding the amendment announced today by Rep. Andre Jacque and Rep. Joel Kleefisch to their bill restricting research using fetal tissue.
“We appreciate legislators recognizing the value of existing cell lines in lifesaving biomedical research on illnesses and conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and many more. However, setting a 2015 sunset would close the door on countless treatments and cures and put our scientists and state biomedical industry at tremendous disadvantage. This is because all cell lines have unique properties and existing cell lines are not a substitute for new cell lines created in the future.
“It is impossible to predict what promising scientific tools, including cell lines, may yet be developed and shutting the door is unwise. Our researchers must continue to have access to, and be involved in the discovery of, the tools that can help advance scientific progress and help find cures for patients.
“Fetal cells and tissues are not just used for treatments. They are tools that aid in basic scientific discoveries, such as understanding how cancer cells migrate or learning how the human immune system responds to drug therapies. Researchers use these tools when they are the very best option for these tasks, and often, they are the only option.
“Banning future research with fetal tissue will not reduce abortions. All tissue used by university researchers is the result of donations from legal medical procedures. It is donated freely after a woman has decided to terminate her pregnancy and is not sold for profit. Women do not have abortions so they can donate. Researchers use tissue from abortions which would otherwise be discarded. It would be unethical not to use such tissue to save lives.
“Our researchers follow current federal laws as well as our own additional strong ethical standards.”