The Washington Post interviewed Dr. Ben Carson about my post from yesterday that disclosed his use of fetal tissue in research.
Defending his work he told David Weigel,
“If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”
But the tissue he used was from an abortion. That is what the Materials section says. It doesn’t say when but it says what. That abortion might have happened 10 years before and it is true the tissue could have been retrieved from a tissue bank and so not obtained for his specific study, but how exactly does Dr. Carson think it got into the tissue bank in the first place? His response makes no sense at all.
To those who wonder if it were a spontaneous abortion (what the public calls a miscarriage) I say highly unlikely. First of all, the Materials section should say “spontaneous abortion.” It doesn’t. Secondly, and most
importantly, a spontaneous abortion is by definition abnormal. Whether it was a chromosome issue or an infection or some other cause for the pregnancy loss that reason is a variable and so if you want to study normal you need normal. There is no way around it.
Studying normal fetal tissue has allowed us to know what cells produce dopamine and serotonin and all the other neurotransmitters. Studying fetal tissue allowed us to understand how the spinal cord forms. necessary if you want to operate on babies with spina bifida. Without fetal tissue research Dr. Ben Carson could not have cared for patients in the way that he did. How is that under delivering?
Carson told The Washington Post, “You have to look at the intent.” The only way this makes any sense at all is if he believes women are specifically having abortions for the sole purpose of selling their fetal tissue, but as no one profits from the sale of fetal tissue one is just left to wonder what exactly he means. I hope reporters keep asking.
And as for Dr. Carson’s ad hominem attack of calling me “desperate.” Dear Dr. Carson, I am desperate but not in the way that you think. I am desperate for the truth and desperate for male politicians who know nothing about reproductive health to think less about the uterus. I get nothing from writing these posts. I don’t work with any political party and I certainly don’t get paid. I have no endorsements and no drug company affiliations. When I write about abortion I get trolled on my Twitter feed and on my blog. Writing about this is time-consuming because I read a lot of references and fact check and the hate is at times soul sucking. It is an easier day when my Twitter feed doesn’t blow up, you know? I get plenty of attention from my sex posts. I write about abortion and women’s rights solely because I believe in evidence based medicine, scientific research, and because the idea of a woman bleeding to death on the floor of her house from a home abortion breaks my heart.
I despise when doctors use their degrees to spout off in the media and then go unchallenged. The media are not doctors so they are not always in the position to call bullshit, but I am. Whether it’s Dr. Oz talking about busting belly fat with a green bean or Dr. Ben Carson talking about fetal tissue research having “under-delivered” it doesn’t matter. Wrong is wrong.