Should foetal tissue be used for medical research?

Planned Parenthood is an American non-profit women’s health organisation. They provide free education, healthcare and contraception to millions of women each year. They are also the largest abortion provider in the US, making them a prime target for anti-abortion campaigners such as The Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

Last year, CMP released secretly filmed videos of physicians at Planned Parenthood. The physicians spoke about conducting abortions in a way that keep foetuses intact for use in research. They also suggest that the Planned Parenthood are illegally profiting by ‘selling’ foetal tissue. The videos sparked a furore which resulted in the US Senate passing legislation to stop Government funding to Planned Parenthood. Although the legislation will not be passed, as it will certainly be vetoed by President Obama, it does prompt serious questions about the use of foetal tissue in medical research.

Millions of non-human animals are bred each year by profit-making businesses to sell to researchers. The research conducted on these animals is often completely irrelevant to humans. The foetal tissue will be produced regardless of the research. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Planned Parenthood or the researchers using foetal tissue are breaking any laws. If foetal tissue is legally obtained, and would otherwise be thrown away, why not use it to study diseases such as HIV/AIDS?

As long as women are not pressured into abortions for financial gain, isn’t human foetal tissue preferable to using specially-bred animals of a different species?

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