BABIES AS MEDICAL PRODUCTS
HON. HENRY J. HYDE
in the House of Representatives
Tuesday, June 29, 1999
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, John Kass, a thoughtful columnist for the
Chicago Tribune, on June 28, 1999, wrote an important column about a
development in modern medicine that has the most serious consequences
for the value of human life. I commend Mr. Kass' article to my
[From the Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1999]
Draw the Line Now Against Using Babies as Medical Products
(By John Kass)
It's an ugly twist on an old science fiction theme:
Would you use the body parts of an innocent baby so that
you could live a happier life?
Would you support a system of incentives to kill other
babies, and process them like meat at a packing plant, for
the benefit of a frightened Baby Boom generation terrified of
Alzheimer's disease and death?
Of course not. The suggestion is monstrous and
dehumanizing. By comparison, it makes what the Serbs and
Albanians are doing to each other look like a gentle game.
But the science fiction scenario doesn't generate the
terrifying passions of old Balkan blood feuds.
Instead, it's calculated, without anger, and practiced by
reasonable men and women in white lab coats.
It's about pure reason, efficiency and scientific
rationalism. It's what a culture can do when it loses its
soul. If you don't believe me, ask a Jew about the Nazi
So get horrified. Because it's not science fiction. It's
happening now, in our country.
I read about it in Sunday's Tribune, in a fascinating story
by science writer Ronald Kotulak under the headline "Stem
cells opening path to brain repair."
It began with an anecdote about a woman with Parkinson's
disease. Her name is Dr. Jacqueline Winterkorn. The drugs she
was taking to fight the disease weren't working anymore.
"It's a very sad disease," Dr. Winterkorn was quoted as
saying. "People are locked into bodies that don't move.
Their brains are working, their minds are working, but they
can't talk and they can't move.
In other words, they're human beings immobilized through no
fault of their own, trapped without speech. They have
emotions, but they can't do anything about it. They're
Like a fetus.
But Dr. Winterkorn's condition began improving, the story
said, after she was given millions of new brain stem cells
because her own brain cells weren't doing their jobs. Her
brain cells weren't producing enough dopamine to control her
The new brain stem cells worked just fine. They produced
dopamine in her brain. She improved. The scientists are
"The prospect of repairing a damaged brain is pretty
remarkable," said Dr. Curt Freed, who did the study. "It
has been possible to show significant improvements in some
patients who suffered from a chronic neurologic disease for
an average of 14 years."
But there is a price for Dr. Freed's success. The new brain
cells have to come from somewhere. And they don't come from
They come from fetuses, which is a polite way of saying
they come from tiny human beings. The tiny human beings
didn't willingly give up their brains. Nobody asked them to
sign papers donating their bodies to science.
They didn't have much say in the matter. They were aborted.
The National Institutes of Health--which means the federal
government--has lifted its ban on the use of human fetal
cells and is bankrolling several other similar studies.
Meanwhile, the White House worries that video games cheapen
human life and make possible massacres like the one in
Courts and abortion rights advocates have said that what
grows in a mother's womb is not a human being. You don't say
baby. That's impolite. You say "it," because that makes a
human being easier to kill.
The debate over abortion is an old one now. Most folks have
settled into their positions and defend them vigorously.
That's not going to change.
What's changing is that we're progressing to a civilized
new stage--turning human beings into valuable commodities--in
which the bodies of the helpless are used to improve the
lives of the powerful.
And it's being done in the name of cold scientific reason.
The rhetorical pathway was cleared years ago, when the
Germans built Buchenwald and Auschwitz and other places.
Soon other folks with Parkinson's or other brain disorders
such as Alzheimer's disease will seek such treatments. The
Baby Boom generation that has never been denied will make its
It's human nature to use available resources to satisfy the
most powerful human need: staying alive.
So aborted human babies will become resources. They'll
become products, subjected to the market. Because they'll
have value, there will be an incentive to provide more. Their
bodies will be served up for the benefit of adults.
If we don't stop it now, if we accept this crime in the
name of scientific reason, we'll lose ourselves.
Ask a mother carrying a child inside her. Ask her if it's
not human. Ask any father who puts his hand on his expectant
wife's belly and feels a tiny foot.
In a few weeks, they're out and looking up to you. They
grab your finger. You kiss their necks. Someday, when they're
old enough, they might ask you what fetal brain stem cell
research is all about.
What will you tell them?
Source: Congressional Record: June 29, 1999 (Extensions)