State Senators' 'Moral' Opportunity Would Curtail Life-Saving Research

Last week, Colorado Senate Republicans inserted an amendment in the budget bill prohibiting the use of state funds to purchase fetal tissue for research -- even though state funds are already barred from being used in this way.

But the sponsors of the amendment, state Senators Tim Neville of Littleton and Laura Woods of Westminster, wanted to clarify the use legislature's intent in the wake of discredited videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

The tissue, as university researchers in Colorado have pointed out, is used to help find cures for terrible diseases. It's obtained under strict federal guidelines that include a consent from the donor of the tissue authorizing it to be used in research. A processing charge is allowed but money-making on such sales illegal.

"This is an important issue," said Woods on the Senate floor (here at 445:30) "We were horrified by the videos that we saw. And the callousness that was associated with those videos. And it deserves our attention..."

"We are not just concerned about Planned Parenthood. We are concerned about the abortions behind this tissue that is being used for research."

Officials at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Colorado State University rejected demands by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) last year that all fetal-tissue research be halted. They noted that funds for such research come from National Institutes of Health or private sources, not state dollars.

Richard Traystman, the University of Colorado School of Medicine's Director of Research, said it was "not acceptable" to stop research using fetal tissue.

Traystman said at the time:  "[Fetal cells]  are very often used in research on diseases of the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, a variety of diseases that involve brain abnormalities and diseases, like Parkinson's disease, for example. They are also used in research on the heart and cardiac tissue and to create vaccines. I could go on."

Traystman emphasized that researchers who use fetal tissue "must go through the Institutional Review Board process, get consent, and follow all the rules and regulations related to human consent forms."

All this does not persuade Woods or Neville, whose fetal-tissue amendment is expected to be deleted from the budget bill by a conference committee, sources say.

"We do have moral opportunities," said Neville. "And I look at this as an opportunity to do the right thing."