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More On Wisconsin “Fetal Body Parts”

Robin Marty

What exactly would a "fetal body part" ban mean in Wisconsin?

Anti-choice politicians in Wisconsin have been discussing a ban on any research involving “fetal body parts” in the state.  But how exactly would that effect the research labs and Universities that are being targeted?

The Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, explains:

Our major concern with the legislation is subsection (b) of s. 146.345(2m), which bans the provision, receipt or use of fetal tissue and cells in research, even when the tissue or cells were provided or obtained without profit. This is tissue that would otherwise be discarded and instead is being used for valuable research into understanding the causes, and developing potential treatments for, conditions such as miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia, childhood leukemia, transplant rejection, and degenerative and autoimmune diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. In prohibiting the use of such essential tissues and cells, the bill goes much farther than federal statutes that permit use of fetal tissue in research, so long as the tissue is not sold for profit. There is nothing currently illegal or unethical about the research use of fetal tissue on the UW-Madison campus.

As you know, biomedical research is a significant part of the research portfolio on our campus. Currently, at least eight UW-Madison investigators use fetal tissue in their research, and hundreds of other investigators are using cell lines originally derived – often decades ago – from fetal tissue. That research continues to get us closer to solving pressing health issues; it is research that gives us hope for a better future; it is research that can improve the lives of not only our state’s citizens but people everywhere.

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The research that uses fetal tissue is well-established science and has produced numerous treatments, as well as vaccines for preventing a variety of horrible diseases. The human polio vaccine, for example, would not have been possible without cells of fetal origin. Other vaccines for rabies, chicken pox, German measles and hepatitis A were all developed with the help of fetal-derived cells. This is proven science in the best interest of human health and should not be inhibited.

Yes, we’d hate to find cures for diseases, wouldn’t we?  Just throwing the tissue out unused makes much more sense.

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