WASHINGTON -- Famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson says that most medical research can be conducted without using fetal tissue, which has been in the news recently after a series of secretly taped but edited videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing how to legally provide aborted tissue to researchers. He has called the benefits of such research "over promised," and has said the videos have made him wonder "how far we have drifted in terms of our humanity."
But according to Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB-GYN and pain medicine physician, the Republican presidential candidate published a study with three other colleagues in 1992 that described using “human choroid plexus ependyma and nasal mucosa from two fetuses aborted in the ninth and 17th week of gestation.”
She wrote on her blog:
As a neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson knows full well that fetal tissue is essential for medical research. His discipline would have a hard time being [where] it is today without that kind of work. What is even more egregious than dismissing the multitude of researchers whose work allowed him to become a neurosurgeon is the hypocrisy of actually having done that research himself while spouting off about its supposed worthlessness.
Fetal tissue has been used for a variety of purposes, including research on an Ebola vaccine, blindness and HIV.
Last month, Carson railed against Planned Parenthood and pro-choice advocates by describing a fetus in the 17th week of gestation.
“At 17 weeks, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands and the heart’s beating," he said on Fox News. "It can respond to environmental stimulus. How can you believe that that’s just an irrelevant mass of cells? That’s what they want you to believe, when in fact it is a human being.”
Carson defended his research to The Washington Post on Thursday:
"You have to look at the intent," Carson said before beginning a campaign swing through New Hampshire. "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."
Like nearly all of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, Carson supports defunding Planned Parenthood. He currently ranks second among likely Republican primary voters in Iowa, according to a CNN poll released earlier this week.
This article has been updated to include Carson's response and more information about Gunter's blog post.
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