Dr. Ben Carson's problematic response to fetal tissue attack

Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, polling in second place at 14% behind Donald Trump, is defending the use of aborted fetuses for medical research.  A 1992 paper co-authored by the retired pediatric neurosurgeon describes research under "Materials and Methods" where tissue was obtained from "two fetuses aborted at the 9th and 17th week of gestation."

The revelation comes just weeks after Carson  told Megyn Kelly, "There’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue.”  

Commenting on the damning Planned Parenthood videos, Carson said, “At 17 weeks, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands and the heart’s beating. It can respond to environmental stimulus. How can you believe that that’s just a[n] irrelevant mass of cells? That’s what they want you to believe, when in fact it is a human being.”  At the same time, he told a CNN reporter tissues and organs from aborted babies were not needed for medical research.

When asked about the 1992 paper, Carson suggested that the controversy was a “desperate” non-starter.  He insisted there was “no contradiction between the research I worked on in 1992 and my pro-life views.”

In a strong retort, the candidate made it clear he was “sickened by the attack” and that he had nothing to do with actual tissue samples that came from aborted babies in the study.  He simply supplied brain tumors he had removed from his patients.

Fair enough, but Carson’s subsequent statements to the Washington Post and others came across as more problematic than his involvement with the 1992 study uncovered by a pro-abortion blogger.  In attempting to clarify his views on the use of fetal tissue for medical research purposes, the candidate may have dug himself a new hole.

From The Washington Post and Daily Mail:

To not use the tissue that is in a tissue bank, regardless of where it comes from would be foolish. Why would anybody not do that?

To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. 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.

When we obtain tissue like that, we want to know what the origin of that tissue is developmentally…Using the information that you have is a smart thing, not a dumb thing."

Bear this in mind about pathologists…Regardless of what their ideology is, when they receive tissue, they prepare the tissue…. Regardless of whether it’s from a fetus or someone who’s 150 years old, they bank them in tissue blocks. Other people doing comparative research need to have a basis. When pathologists receive specimen, their job is to prepare the specimen. They have no job opining on where the tissue came from.

Carson also said his “primary responsibility in that research was when I operated on people and obtained the tissue,” and that he has not used fetal tissue since the paper was written.

According to the Washington Post, Carson stated that he supported defunding Planned Parenthood but would not call for a halt to fetal tissue research as long as it was already available.

As for this last statement, why not call for an end to using fetal tissue if, as he told Megyn Kelly weeks ago, “there’s nothing that can’t be done without fetal tissue”?

In another murky statement, Carson says killing babies and taking tissues is not the same thing as taking a “dead specimen” and making a record of it.  What if the “dead specimen” is an electively aborted baby?  Most conservatives believe that aborting babies is killing babies, whether PP execs are caught on video manipulating the acquisition of that tissue or not.

As a medical doctor, Carson obviously approves of pathologists using “specimens” for research and finds no connection in the lab between aborted fetal tissue and ethical concerns.  Are pathologists supposed to be blind to ethics and, as he says, have no opinion on where the tissue came from?  If so, then fetal tissue and organs obtained by deliberately altering the fetus’s position in the womb, as discussed in the Planned Parenthood videos, in order to procure an “intact” specimen should be irrelevant to the pathologist. 

For most pro-life conservatives, abortion is murder, and any tissue obtained from the killing of unborn babies, regardless of the circumstances, is an abomination.  Does Carson concur?