Taking the Lives of Some for the Health of Others: Fetal Tissue Transplant

by Robert D. McLaughlin, Christian Counselor

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Parkinson's disease, it conjurs up very unpleasant thoughts for people, although it isn't understood very well. Usually, most people are only aware of the symptoms. It currently affects about 1.5 million people in the United States according to the July 1995 issue of Discover magazine (Volume 16, No. 7). Untold millions of others who are related to these are also affected, not only having to take care of their loved ones, but also worrying if they will develop the disorder. At this time, there is no known cure.

It is a disease that afflicts the brain, the substantia nigra to be specific. This area of the brain supplies a very needed neurotransmitter called dopamine, and this is used to aid movement in the body. Until now, L-dopa has been used to treat Parkinson's disease, and to add more time for the person to lead a more normal life. Unfortunately, it can only put off the inevitable, the herky-jerky movements and related physical problems. People with the disease eventually end up in wheelchairs or bedridden, unable to move and take care of themselves like they used to.

There is now a treatment that is currently being tested on a limited basis here in America, as well as in various places in Europe. This treatment involves taking fetal brain tissue and injecting these brain cells into the patient's brain in the hopes that these brain cells will begin growing in the receiver's brain. This in turn will help the patient's brain to process the dopamine, and either halt the progression or even reverse the disease. This would be wonderful for the people who have Parkinson's and for their families.

The major problem with the donation is that the brain tissue that is used doesn't come from those who have died and want to donate their organs for transplantation. The brain tissue comes from fetuses, or better put, unborn children. These unborn children are not the unfortunate victims of miscarriages, but of planned abortions.

The tissue that is used has to come from an unborn child that is between the 6th and 8th week of development in the mother's womb. The taking of this tissue has to be planned because of the narrow window of viability and because it requires having the medical technology on hand necessary to harvest the brain cells. This eliminates even the unfortunate victims of miscarriages from donating, since the miscarriages are unplanned, and often happen away from medical technology.

If this proves to be a process that can be used, there are very hideous precedents that could result. It would encourage even more abortions for at least two reasons. First, there would be the rationalization that it would not only terminate an unwanted pregnancy and child, but in the process, the mother could feel that she is improving the quality of life for another person.

It also establishes the potential for serious abuse. If a person finds that they have developed Parkinson's, they could arrange for a woman to become impregnated, then have an abortion so that the tissue could be harvested, all for a predetermined price. A woman who finds herself needing money, for herself or for her family, could become pregnant, terminate the pregnancy, and use the money. Because of the fact that she would only go to the 6th to 8th week, it is possible that no one around would even know that she did it.

Organ donation is a process that has added to the quality and quantity of life for thousands of people over the past few years. This should continue. Fetal tissue transplantation, on the other hand, is one more step that lessens the value of life in our society, especially life that may inconvenience us. All life should be respected, whether it is the life of a person with Parkinson's, an unborn child, or anyone else.

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume III, Part 7, July 1995.

Copyright 1999 Robert D. McLaughlin. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

Click here for Robert McLaughlin's e-mail address.

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This page was last updated October 22, 1999.