I was aghast upon recently learning of a bold new era of “research” at my alma mater and former employer, the University of Pittsburgh, an institution I hailed here in The American Spectator last year for its cutting-edge work on everything from the Salk polio vaccine to COVID vaccines to the historic immunosuppressant drug that was the breakthrough for organ transplantation. I recall these triumphs as a measure of my disappointment at what’s happening there now. Above all, I regret to report what’s going to get worse nationwide under the presidency of Joe Biden.
A few weeks ago, I was sent an alarming report about scientists at my alma mater using scalps from aborted babies to create “humanized mice” for research. Yes, “humanized mice.” It’s an oxymoron, at least in the natural world. Or, to borrow from Jefferson, according to the laws of nature and nature’s God. No such thing as “humanized mice” exists this side of creation or outside Disney cartoons. That is, unless an intrepid new breed of scientist endeavors to create such people – rodent chimera.
Well, such scientists do exist, and their chief creative tool to boldly go where no man has gone before is fetus flesh, courtesy of the act of abortion.
The aborted babies’ bodies come from Magee-Women’s Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Tissue Bank. This doubly hurts for personal reasons: I was born at Magee in 1966, and so were my first two sons. For my wife’s first pregnancy, the publicity office at Magee even asked her to model for a special ad campaign. One of the joyful photos I keep framed at my office desk — my wife and my first son, in her womb. It’s a happy image, quite unlike the images I saw a few weeks ago of rat-human hybrids. The latter isn’t something you would want to frame for your desk.
When my wife consented to a photo shoot of a blissful young mom-to-be, she could joyously picture what that might look like. To the contrary, when the already-suffering mothers of these aborted children gave written consent for their babies’ bodies to be used for medical research, they surely in their wildest imaginations (or nightmares) couldn’t envision this grotesque display. But apparently, when you agree to hand over this “material,” this is what scientists can do with it.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein comes to mind, though that would be kind. At least Dr. Victor Frankenstein stuck to grafting dead human flesh upon dead human flesh. These 21st-century scientists intermix human with rodent. Perhaps more fitting for these new pioneers would be another novel: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
I learned about this “research” at the University of Pittsburgh in an article published by the National Catholic Register, a religious publication rightly troubled by the moral implications of this travesty of ethics. The Register linked to the original article published in the science journal Nature. Typical of science journals, the Nature article is a perverse pastiche of technical jargon without a seeming whit of concern for the moral outrage at hand, which it coldly and clinically glided right by.
That, too, is no surprise, and it’s another indication of the continuing downward slide of ethics in the science community. Back in the late 1980s, when I worked in medical research, I was troubled by colleagues who resorted to clinical, dehumanizing language to describe people. Deceased human beings were “cadavers.” When we removed organs from “donors,” we “harvested” the organs. I filed reports on the donors. I read all about them, their families, and their causes of death (aneurisms, motorcycle accidents, etc.). I was never comfortable with dehumanizing language, and I openly said so, though even then, the surgeons I worked with were usually sensitive with their language. But I digress.
Unlike the author of the Nature article, the National Catholic Register reporter captured for the layman the moral elephant in the research room. She reported, “In September, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh published their work on the development of humanized mice and rats with ‘full-thickness human skin.’ ” This so-called “full-thickness human skin” from fetuses was grafted onto rodents “while simultaneously co-engrafting the same fetus’s lymphoid tissues and hematopoietic stem cells from the liver, so that the rodent models were humanized with organs and skin from the same child.” This coveted “full-thickness fetal skin” was taken from fetuses aborted at Magee-Women’s Hospital at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Human hair was evident on the mice by 12 weeks: “In the scalp grafts, fine human hair can be seen growing long and dark surrounded by the short white hairs of the mouse.”
If that doesn’t stand your hair on end, the ugly photos posted online at Nature should. Take a click. Behold, it isn’t a pretty picture.
The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, which very likely means that tax dollars contributed to this “research.” And that brings me to my larger point.
Sadly, it isn’t only the University of Pittsburgh pushing headstrong into this Brave New World. To give another example currently in the news, a federal complaint has been filed against researchers at Stanford, where scientists are using aborted babies’ fingers in taxpayer-funded experiments. The fetal fingers and related tissue were, again, grafted onto mice — apparently, a favored species for certain ethical-moral midgets among the white-coat crowd.
But here’s the worst part: hold on to your wallet as well as your conscience, because it’s going to get worse. Experimentation on aborted fetal tissue will accelerate because of the man whom Americans elected to the White House in 2020 and because of the people that man has appointed to the executive branch. The Biden administration has reversed several crucial steps by the Trump administration to prevent taxpayer funding of medical research with aborted baby parts. That includes disbanding an ethical advisory board created by the Trump administration — namely, the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board (within the National Institutes of Health) — that vetted research funding requests to ensure that tax dollars were not used to fund this kind of sick work.
A member of that board was Father Tad Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. “I served on the Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board and participated in its deliberations,” Pacholczyk states. “The board acted with moral clarity and ethical resolve as it carried out its mandate. Very regrettably, the current administration is jettisoning serious ethical review to safeguard abortion and to assure the continued exploitation of vulnerable unborn Americans. Outside ethical review is essential. We are returning to a situation where the foxes control the henhouse.”
We are indeed.
As noted in The American Spectator by Evan Maguire, this is just one more move by President Joe Biden to reverse the remarkable pro-life progress of President Donald Trump, and maybe the most grotesque move yet. The overseer will be Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who told the Senate during his confirmation hearing that his Catholic mother blessed him with her rosary before he headed off to seek approval for his appointment. The Senate was not oblivious to Becerra’s cavalier attitude toward the unborn. Recall that Becerra refused to answer this question from a troubled Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.): “Is there any line you would draw? Is there just one — just one restriction that relates to abortion that you might support?… How about a ban on the lethal discrimination of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome?”
Becerra wouldn’t respond, but he did tell the senator that his elderly mother “blessed” him before he left for his confirmation hearing and that she “prays the rosary every day” and “said a prayer and included me in that prayer.”
Clearly, this research doesn’t seem to bother the Catholic conscience of Xavier Becerra. Does it bother Joe Biden’s Catholic conscience?
The Catholic-conscience question is particularly important right now. The degree to which the pro-choice Biden has lurched to the far-left extreme on life issues is alarming, beginning with his June 2019 abandonment of the Hyde Amendment, which he had supported for literally 40 years (it was a decisive moment that I wrote about in The American Spectator at the time). Catholics already knew that Biden wasn’t pro-life, but the degree to which he’s making a mockery of his Church’s moral-ethical positions as president is shocking. There seem to be no limits, as the aborted-fetus spectacle reveals.
To that end, reporter Owen Jensen of EWTN News Nightly asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the Biden administration’s lifting of fetal-tissue restrictions, citing a statement from the U.S. bishops condemning the decision. “Look,” said Psaki, “I think the White House respectfully disagrees. And we believe that it’s important to invest in science and look for opportunities to cure diseases, and I think that’s what this is hopeful to do.”
In other words, the Catholic Joe Biden is looking not to his bishops for guidance but to wherever scientists “look for opportunities.” That’s his credo. As he does, his bishops are intently considering whether Biden should be denied Holy Communion because of the degree to which he has aggressively rejected the Church’s moral teachings in his first 100 days. In response to the bishops’ expressed concerns, liberal Catholics are losing their minds, launching petition drives against the likes of Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who chairs the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Left-wing Catholics are screaming about supposed double standards because the bishops didn’t (allegedly) strongly enough sanction Donald Trump on, say, immigration.
A news alert to these Catholics: Uh, Donald Trump is not Catholic; Joe Biden is Catholic. As Bishop Naumann notes, “Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us. It can create confusion…. How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”
It can create confusion and even scandal.
Of course, to the bishops, whether dealing with Joe Biden or Xavier Becerra or these modern Frankensteins at research universities, the unethical pursuit of fetus-mouse hybrids (and more) is no surprise. When a country loses its moral moorings, it further descends into what Pope Benedict XVI called a “dictatorship of relativism.” This ends-justify-the-means utilitarianism among scientists and pro-choice politicians is inevitable. What John Paul II characterized as the “culture of death” is in full swing, with an all-new low: taxpayer-subsidized baby-parts farms. Our excited researchers ghoulishly pluck away at taxpayer expense.
Alas, a closing thought for pro-choice women, who claim to care about pregnant women and their informed “choices.”
To repeat, this process is supposedly done with the “consent” of the “patient” (the patient being not the aborted individual, but the mother). But that process, like abortion itself, thrives on what is hidden, on what isn’t told to moms — on dark secrets behind closed doors. You can be sure that the already-distraught mom couldn’t imagine that her “doctors” would be “harvesting” her aborted baby’s parts to graft onto furry-tailed rodents.
Pro-choicers, where’s your compassion for the mothers? Does the mom not have dignity?
This will only get worse. President Joe Biden’s actions will not only not stop the madness, but facilitate it. Welcome to Biden’s Brave New World.
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